Georgia’s new whistleblower law has the potential to be the single most important tool that Georgia taxpayers have to recover the millions of dollars that are stolen through government fraud in Georgia every year.
Atlanta, Georgia (PRWEB) July 02, 2012
The Georgia Taxpayer Protection False Claims Act becomes Georgia’s most powerful whistleblower law today. “This is a great day for Georgia’s taxpayers,” says Georgia qui tam lawyer Brandon Hornsby. “Georgia’s new whistleblower law has the potential to be the single most important tool that Georgia taxpayers have to recover the millions of dollars that are stolen through government fraud in Georgia every year.”
Georgia’s False Claims Act allows private citizens to file qui tam lawsuits against companies and individuals that defraud Georgia state and local governments. This means that for the first time in Georgia history, whistleblowers are now eligible to receive a reward between 15-30% of the state government's recovery when they report almost any type of fraud involving state and local government spending.
Georgia’s new law allows whistleblowers to report government spending fraud involving any:
► School district
► Hospital authority
► Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)
► Political subdivisions of any Georgia local government
“Only time will tell whether Georgia’s False Claims Act will live up to its full potential, but right now there are two obvious keys to its success. First, the Georgia Attorney General and state prosecutors must aggressively pursue the law. Second, our elected officials must defend the law against special interests who will ultimately try to weaken its whistleblower protections,” explains Hornsby.
The Federal False Claims Act
The Federal False Claims Act was originally created to fight military fraud during the Civil War. It was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. That is why it often called Lincoln's Law.
Today the Federal False Claims Act has become the primary law used by private citizens and the federal government to combat government fraud, including health care fraud, Medicare kickbacks, and government contractor fraud. To date, the Federal False Claims Act has helped return of over $35 billion to the US Treasury.
Georgia’s False Claims Act
Georgia’s False Claims Act is modeled after the Federal False Claims Act.
Until now, Georgia has had two primary state whistleblower laws: the Georgia Whistleblower Act and the Georgia State False Medicaid Claims Act.
The Georgia Whistleblower Act protects government employees against certain types of retaliation when they blow the whistle on state and local fraud, waste and abuse.
The Georgia State False Medicaid Claims Act allows private citizens to bring qui tam whistleblower complaints against companies and individuals that defraud the Georgia Medicaid Program, but is exclusively limited to Medicaid fraud cases.
These two whistleblower laws have had limited success. They also offer Georgia whistleblowers limited protection against retaliation. As a result, for years, the state of Georgia has lost the opportunity to recover millions of stolen taxpayer dollars.
A Public-Private Partnership
The Georgia Taxpayer Protection False Claims Act recognizes that Georgia’s government, with its limited resources, is overmatched to fight fraud alone. As a result, it makes sense to create a public-private partnership between the government and private citizens who have the courage to blow the whistle on government fraud.
Georgia’s new False Claims Act has the following highlights:
► Approval: The Georgia Attorney General must approve state qui tam lawsuits before they are filed
► Penalties: Companies and individuals that violate Georgia’s False Claim Act shall receive a civil penalty of not less than $5,500.00 and not more than $11,000.00 for each false or fraudulent claim, plus three times the amount of damages which the state or local government sustains
► Rewards: Whistleblowers are eligible to receive a reward between 15-25% of the government's recovery in the cases in which the state intervenes and 25-30% of the government's recovery in the cases in which the state does not intervene
► Retaliation: Whistleblowers are protected against retaliation and can receive damages if they suffer retaliation, including reinstatement if they are wrongfully terminated, two times the amount of back pay, as well as litigation costs and reasonable attorney's fees
About Hornsby Law Group
Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the Hornsby Law Group has extensive experience handling qui tam whistleblower cases. Whistleblowers who are interested in reporting government fraud are encouraged to visit the law firm’s website and are eligible to receive a free, confidential case review.
About Brandon Hornsby
Brandon Hornsby is a former Georgia state and federal prosecutor. He is the president and founder of the Hornsby Law Group.