How do damages work under the Federal False Claims Act?
The Defendant pays:
– Three times actual damages which is known as “treble damages.”
– Civil penalties which can be as high as approximately $12,000 for every false claim submitted to the government
– Attorney’s fees and costs
– A bounty of between 15 and 30 percent for the whistleblower.
Three times “actual damages” means that the government can be awarded three times its losses. This is the risk that every defendant must worry about if the case proceeds to a jury. To avoid the risk of litigation, the government sometimes elects to settle cases and compromise at two times actual damages.
In addition to damages, the government is entitled to civil penalties of up to approximately $12,000 for each false claim that is submitted. This is in addition to actual trebled damages. To determine the number of false claims the jury is typically asked to determine the number of false claims submitted to the government.
If the Relator (whistleblower) prevails, the Defendant will also be required to pay fees and costs.
How much is awarded to the whistleblower?
Whistleblowers can be awarded millions of dollars, but the exact number depends entirely on the value of recovery.
The whistleblower is generally entitled to a bounty of between 15 and 30 percent of the recovery. The recovery includes actual trebles damages and civil penalties.
If the government intervenes the bounty range is between 15 and 25 percent. If the government does not intervene and the Relator secures a recovery the bounty is between 25 and 30 percent.
Under certain limited circumstance the bounty can be lower than 15 percent.
It is important to consult with your lawyer to determine the precise applicability of this general guidance to your case.