Parties on both sides of False Claims Act cases tend to agree that the number of lawsuits and amount of money they redistribute to the U.S. government has significantly increased since the statute was amended in 1986.
Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies in Washington, D.C., contends that Congress has been pressured not to rein in the anti-fraud law, but instead, find ways to widen its scope.
“In recent years, you’ve seen some pushback from the business community, but given the record of congressional expansion, they’ll be doing pretty well if they can just keep Congress from expanding it further,” said Olson, who also founded and still runs the popular blog Overlawyered.com.
Olson and other experts claim that excessive False Claims Act lawsuits will continue to cause trouble for businesses. They say when not interpreted properly, the law permits lawsuits that are expensive, time-consuming and often meritless.
The Department of Justice announced in December that it secured $3.8 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud against the government in 2013. According to the office, the amount represents the second largest annual recovery of its type in history and brings total recoveries under the False Claims Act to $17 billion since January 2009.
The DOJ also shows that its 2013 efforts recovered more than $3 billion for the fourth year in a row, surpassed only by last year’s nearly $5 billion in settlements and judgments.