DOJ's Annual False Claims Act Statistics: Relators Forging Ahead with Success
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Feb. 7, 2023, released its annual statistics for its civil False Claims Act (FCA) and fraud cases from the 2022 fiscal year (FY).
Up front, we see the following key takeaways:
- For the first time on record, the value of settlements and judgments where DOJ declined and relators pursued the case was higher than in DOJ-led cases.
- DOJ pursued with increased success cases outside the healthcare industry and U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
- The total number of cases is slowly but steadily increasing, both in qui tam and DOJ-initiated cases; however, the total amount recovered is the lowest since 2008.
DOJ reports it recovered more than $2.2 billion for 351 settlements and judgments, the second-highest quantity of settlements and judgments in a single year. Still an incredibly large number, this year's dollar recovery pales in comparison to years past where a few very large recoveries inflated the total:
More important than the total is the story the underlying numbers tell. Namely, that FCA enforcement actions continue to rise. The DOJ's report highlights an increase in total of number of cases brought by both the government and qui tam relators:
The data demonstrates a continued upward trend of government enforcement under this administration, with 296 new matters initiated by the government, compared to 212 in the prior year. Government initiation is still significantly outpaced by whistleblowers, who filed 652 qui tam suits in fiscal year 2022, compared to 598 in 2021.
Also notable this year is the total number of "other" cases beyond healthcare and DOD. There were 418 cases in the "other" category, up from 266 and similar in years past:
To be sure, the value of healthcare recoveries continues to dominate the returns, with $1.76 billion of the $2.2 billion recovered relating to healthcare cases.
Quite notably, for the first time ever, proceeds from qui tam suits where the government declined to intervene exceeded amounts recovered for suits brought by the government. Of the $2.2 billion, $1.96 billion came from qui tam suits. Typically, the value of those suits comes from DOJ intervention, and many cases are not pursued by the relators after DOJ declines to intervene.
But this year, relators forged ahead and with success – recoveries for relator-led cases more than doubled in 2022 at $1.18 billion, representing roughly half of the total recoveries for the year:
Although these FY 2022 statistics represent somewhat of a return to normalcy after the monumental recoveries in FY 2021, the increase in the number of cases brought signify this administration's continued focus on enforcement. The numbers may also lead to more relators pursuing cases on their own in hopes of post-intervention recovery.