Hawaii and Tennessee expand whistleblower ("qui tam") laws

Aug. 4, 2001 — Hawaii and Tennessee have amended their existing false claims laws to cover more types of fraud.

The Hawaii whistleblower law now allows false claims made to counties to be the basis for whistleblower lawsuits. The previous version applied only to false claims made to the state.

Liable companies and individuals would be required under the Hawaii statute to pay as much as $5,000 to $10,000 for each false claim, and three times the government's losses. Whistleblowers ("relators") may receive up to 30 percent of whatever the government recovers due to their lawsuit.

In Tennessee, the false claims law now applies to any false claim made to the state as well as any political subdivision. False claims made to state contractors or made to those who receive grants from the state also may be the basis for a whistleblower lawsuit, if any of the funds claimed were provided by the state or a political subdivision. Before the law was amended, it applied only to health care false claims.

Penalties under the Tennessee False Claims Act can range from $2,500 to $10,000. The statute provides a reward for relators (whistleblowers) of up to 50 percent.

Both laws went into effect June13.