DOJ Announces Record-Breaking Year for False Claims Act Settlements and Judgments

Qui tam relators and the U.S. Department of Justice continue to expand usage of the False Claims Act.

Recently released statistics confirm the False Claims Act remains the federal government's primary tool for civil enforcement. In 2023, the Department of Justice recovered more than $2.6 billion, which exceeded 2022 recoveries. While the dollar recoveries are not record-breaking, the number of FCA settlements and judgments resolved in 2023 reached 543—the most ever in a single year. The number of new False Claims Act matters opened was record-breaking as well. In 2023, 1,012 new matters were opened—the highest number, by far, since the government began tracking these statistics in 2006.

The health care and life sciences industries continue to bear the brunt of the FCA caseload. In 2023, $1.8 billion of the $2.6 billion total stemmed from matters involving health care.

Further, relators continue to drive False Claims Act litigation. Qui tam suits constituted a full 87% of DOJ's 2023 recoveries. And relators reaped the rewards. Their share of awards in FCA litigation totaled $267 million, the highest sum in the last four years. Despite qui tam litigation's continued importance, however, government intervention remains a critical point of inflection in FCA cases—81% of 2023 FCA recoveries were in cases where the government chose to intervene.

Beyond health care and life sciences entities, the government's press release also highlighted DOJ's Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative and recent uses of the FCA against others, including settlements related to cybersecurity, alleged procurement fraud, and individuals accused of participation in the submission of false or fraudulent claims for payment.

Looking forward, health care and life sciences companies, and all who come into contact with federal dollars as part of their business, will need to remain diligent with compliance efforts. In particular, recent comments by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton indicate that Managed Medicare/Medicaid, cybersecurity, pandemic fraud, and the potential role of private equity investors in the conduct of health care entities will be of particular importance in 2024 and beyond.

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