Sunday, December 6, 2015

U.S. Department of Justice 2015 False Claims Act Statistics: A Great Year for Relators in Declined Qui Tam Cases

The Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its False Claims Act (FCA) recoveries for fiscal year 2015 last week. Here is the DOJ's press release and its cumulative statistics for 1987 through 2015. The DOJ's statistics reflect that the overall recoveries were down from last year's high point and that the government and relators filed fewer FCA cases. 

The biggest take away from the 2015 figures is that relators are continuing to vigorously pursue qui tam cases in which the government has declined to intervene: 2015 was the best year ever for relator recoveries in declined qui tam cases. Moreover, 2015 was the first year in which the relators' share of awards from FCA cases in which the government declined to intervene exceeded that of qui tam cases in which the government intervened. The days are officially over when relators' counsel and relators dropped most of their qui tam cases when the government declined. Rather, these statistics show that relators' counsel are increasingly pursuing and obtaining recoveries in declined cases.

DOJ recovered $3.583 billion in FCA settlements and judgments in 2015, not including recoveries from cases "delegated" to the U.S. Attorneys' Offices.  

Regarding the $3.583 billion in total FCA recoveries for 2015, I observed the following:
  • Total FCA recoveries were down 38% from the $5.781 billion recovered by DOJ last year; FY 2014  was the best year ever for FCA recoveries.
  • $2.913 billion or 80% of DOJ's 2015 recoveries resulted from qui tam cases, both intervened and non-intervened/declined (herein "declined") cases.
  • $1.149 billion or 32% came from 2015 recoveries in declined qui tam cases.
2015 was the best year ever for relator recoveries in qui tam cases in which the government declined to intervene. By comparison, the best year for recoveries in declined qui tam cases was 2011 in which relators recovered $173 million. In 2015, DOJ obtained more recoveries from declined qui tam cases than all the previous years added together: $1.149 billion in 2015 v. $1.006 billion in 1987-2014.

As has been the trend for almost every year since 1987, recoveries from qui tam cases exceeded non qui tam cases: $2.913 billion to $670,783,021.

Lowest Number of FCA Cases Filed Since 2010.

737 FCA cases and investigations were filed in FY 2015: 105 "direct filed" by DOJ/US Attorneys and relators filed 632 qui tams
  • Qui tam cases filed in 2015 were also the lowest since 2010 when relators filed only 576 qui tams.
  • 2015 FCA cases decreased 9% from the 810 FCA cases filed in FY 2014.
  • 2015 qui tam cases decreased 11.48% over FY 2014's 714 filed qui tams.

Relator Share Awards Increased Especially in Declined Cases.

The big news for 2015 concerns relators' share awards. Relators had their best year ever in the amount of relators' share awards recovered: $597,610,533. The only previous year in which more than $500 million was awarded to relators was 2011.
  • In FY 2014, relators' share awards in declined cases totaled $14,622,854 but that total grew in 2015 to $334,642,108 – a 2188% increase. Prior to 2015, the largest year for relators' share awards was 2011: $49,041,606.
  • For the first time, the relators' share awards in declined cases, $334,642,108, exceeded relators' share awards in qui tam cases where the government intervened: $262,968,424. 
  • In fact, the relators' share awards in declined cases for 2015 exceeded all previous years of relators' share awards put together since 1987: $202,530,697.

FCA Recoveries in Health Care Fraud Cases Continued to Lead. 

As in many years past, the largest portion of FCA recoveries arose from FCA cases alleging health care fraud against the federal government (e.g., Medicare, Tricare) and state Medicaid programs: in 2015, the DOJ received $1.965 billion in health care fraud recoveries form FCA cases. That total was down from $2.401 billion in 2014. 2015 had the smallest recovery in health care fraud FCA cases since 2009, when $1.632 billion was recovered.
  • 60.79% of the 737 FCA cases/investigations initiated in 2015 related to health care fraud.
  • 66.93 of all qui tams filed in 2015 related to health care fraud: 448/632.
  • The $330,393,564 total of relators' share awards for 2015 represented 55.29% of the total amount of all relators' share awards in 2015, but that total was a decrease from last year in which relators received almost $356 million in awards in FCA health care cases.
  • Relators' share awards in declined health care cases increased substantially: from $10,841,222 in 2014 to $131,047,572 in 2015, a 1108% increase!

FCA Recoveries Excluding Cases Arising from Health Care and Department of Defense Continue to Be High.

Excluding health care fraud and Department of Defense cases, the remaining category of FCA cases had another respectable year in 2015: 247 FCA cases and investigations, both non qui tam and qui tam, were filed. This represented only a slight decrease from FY 2014 when 256 cases/investigations were filed.

DOJ obtained $1.359 billion in settlements and judgments for this category in 2015. Here again, settlements in declined qui tam cases led with $647,516,850 recovered. Not surprisingly, the relators' share award in declined qui tam cases also was large: $201,678,887, which was an increase of 15562.7% over the relators' share awards in 2014: $1,287,632. The relators' share awards in 2015 for declined cases was more than 4 times more than the relators' share for intervened qui tams: $201,678,887 to $39,746,064. 

A. Brian Albritton
December 6, 2015

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