The False Claims Act, which permits bounty-hunting qui tam recovery by those who whistle-blow against fraud against the government (Jun. 2, Feb. 9), has a number of protections to prevent trial lawyers from swooping in and parasitically laying claim to government recovery when the government was already aware of the alleged fraud. In the latest Congressional earmark for trial lawyers, Senator Grassley (Oct. 2006) is attempting to undo many of these protections. But since the False Claims Act already permits meritorious bounty-hunting in spades (the vast majority of government recovery comes from a small fraction of suits brought, with gigantic jackpots paid to private litigants and their attorneys), the only effect of the amendments will be to increase meritless qui tam actions (e.g., Oct. 26, Feb. 2006, Jul. 2005, OL Aug. 2006, OL May 2006).
Former Acting Attorney General Stuart Gerson has an excellent analysis of the legislation for the Washington Legal Foundation.