Whether or not they think of themselves as traditional government contractors, companies in a wide variety of industries may face exposure to the False Claims Act through allegations that they submitted false claims or made false statements resulting in payment with U.S. government funds. Facing treble damages, penalties of up to $11,000 per false claim or statement, as well as potential suspension and debarment, the consequences to a business can be can be ruinous. The government's enforcement efforts have increased substantially over the past years, and the whistleblower (or qui tam) provisions of the False Claims Act, as well as an active plaintiffs' bar, have fueled the explosion in these cases.
Crowell & Moring's experience and reputation in False Claims Act matters is unparalleled. Our lawyers have handled hundreds of related investigations and cases for nearly three decades, including a number of victories in landmark appellate cases in federal circuit courts across the country. Chambers USA has described our False Claims Act and related practices in glowing terms: "One of the foremost practices in the market, the breadth and depth of this team's technical knowledge coupled with the deep experience of its leading partners earn it a top-tier ranking."
We follow a logical, proven process in our defense of clients facing False Claims Act allegations. Our first objective in every matter is to persuade the government not to pursue/intervene, and we frequently dissuade law enforcement agencies from filing charges during the investigative phase. We then seek to convince qui tam relators that litigating on their own will not result in success. Consequently, many of Crowell & Moring's False Claims Act cases are resolved favorably long before trial and without protracted litigation.
Although many of our cases are resolved before litigation, there are times when they should and do proceed to court. Our trial team is one of the strongest in the field, and we regularly obtain victories for clients through pre-trial motions, at trial, and/or on appeal. Litigation pursued by the firm under the False Claims Act has helped to shape the law to the advantage of our clients — many of our cases are benchmarks in this area of law.
When settlement is the most prudent and desirable option, we draw on our long-standing relationships with numerous Department of Justice officials responsible for False Claims Act prosecutions and policies. One of our primary settlement goals is to avoid suspension or debarment by federal agencies. Our deep and broad experience in this arena, combined with our leading government contracts practice and knowledge of the law, provide us with the full range of options and credibility to achieve these client objectives.
We work with our clients to install necessary internal procedures that can help them prevent compliance issues or, if such issues do arise, to avoid suspension or debarment. Many relators include wrongful termination or other retaliatory claims in their lawsuit; with this in mind, we frequently team with our Labor & Employment Group in counseling employers on how to avoid running afoul of those protections and, where necessary, in defending the employment aspects of the case. We also lobby Congress on behalf of those industries affected by the False Claims Act.