The Connecticut whistleblower law, the Connecticut False Claims Act, allows whistleblowers to file “qui tam” lawsuits if they know of violations of that state law.
The Connecticut False Claims Act imposes liability on people and corporations who knowingly submit false claims to Connecticut health and human services programs, including Medicaid.
Fines – A defendant may be ordered to pay up to three times the actual harm to the state, plus a fine of between $5,500 and $11,000 (adjusted for inflation) for each violation of the Act.
Whistleblower awards – Whistleblowers may recover between 15 and 25 percent of any proceeds from the action or settlement if the Connecticut Attorney General intervenes in the case, and between 25 and 30 percent if the Attorney General declines to join. The court may reduce the amount of the award if the whistleblower’s complaint is based primarily upon publicly disclosed information or if the whistleblower planned and initiated the fraud.
Whistleblower protection – The Connecticut False Claims Act protects whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers.
Statute of limitations – Plaintiffs must file their complaint within ten years of the date on which the violation occurred.
As recodified and amended by P.A. 14-217, effective June 13, 2014.
Connecticut Whistleblower Law: The Connecticut False Claims Act
Title 4, CHAPTER 55e of the General Statutes of Connecticut
FALSE CLAIMS AND OTHER PROHIBITED ACTS UNDER STATE-
ADMINISTERED HEALTH OR HUMAN SERVICES PROGRAMS
Sec. 4-274. Definitions. As used in this section and section 4-275:
(1) “Knowing” and “knowingly” means that a person, with respect to information: (A) Has actual knowledge of the information; (B) acts in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information; or (C) acts in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information, without regard to whether the person intends to defraud;
(2) “Claim” (A) means any request or demand, whether under a contract or otherwise, for money or property and whether or not the state has title to the money or property, that (i) is presented to an officer, employee or agent of the state, or (ii) is made to a contractor, grantee or other recipient, if the money or property is to be spent or used on the state’s behalf or to advance a state program or interest, and if the state provides or has provided any portion of the money or property that is requested or demanded, or if the state will reimburse such contractor, grantee or other recipient for any portion of the money or property that is requested or demanded, and (B) does not include a request or demand for money or property that the state has paid to an individual as compensation for state employment or as an income subsidy with no restrictions on that individual’s use of the money or property;
(3) “Person” means any natural person, corporation, limited liability company, firm, association, organization, partnership, business, trust or other legal entity;
(4) “State” means the state of Connecticut, any agency or department of the state or any quasi-public agency, as defined in section 1-120;
(5) “Obligation” means an established duty, whether fixed or not, arising from (A) an express or implied contractual, grantor-grantee or licensor-licensee relationship, (B) a fee-based or similar relationship, (C) statute or regulation, or (D) the retention of an overpayment;
(6) “Material” means having a natural tendency to influence, or be capable of influencing, the payment or receipt of money or property; and
(7) “State-administered health or human services program” means programs administered by any of the following: The Department on Aging, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Developmental Services, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Department of Social Services, the Office of Early Childhood, and the Office of the State Comptroller, for the State Employee and Retiree Health programs, as well as other health care programs administered by the Office of the State Comptroller, and the Department of Administrative Services, for Workers’ Compensation medical claims, including such programs reimbursed in whole or in part by the federal government.
Sec. 4-275. False claims and other prohibited acts re state-administered health or human services programs. Penalties. (a) No person shall:
(1) Knowingly present, or cause to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval under a state-administered health or human services program;
(2) Knowingly make, use or cause to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim under a state-administered health or human services program;
(3) Conspire to commit a violation of this section;
(4) Having possession, custody or control of property or money used, or to be used, by the state relative to a state-administered health or human services program, knowingly deliver, or cause to be delivered, less property than the amount for which the person receives a certificate or receipt;
(5) Being authorized to make or deliver a document certifying receipt of property used, or to be used, by the state relative to a state-administered health or human services program and intending to defraud the state, make or deliver such document without completely knowing that the information on the document is true;
(6) Knowingly buy, or receive as a pledge of an obligation or debt, public property from an officer or employee of the state relative to a state-administered health or human services program, who lawfully may not sell or pledge the property;
(7) Knowingly make, use or cause to be made or used, a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the state under a state-administered health or human services program; or
(8) Knowingly conceal or knowingly and improperly avoid or decrease an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the state under a state-administered health or human services program.
(b) Any person who violates the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be liable to the state for: (1) A civil penalty of not less than five thousand five hundred dollars or more than eleven thousand dollars, or as adjusted from time to time by the federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, 28 USC 2461, (2) three times the amount of damages that the state sustains because of the act of that person, and (3) the costs of investigation and prosecution of such violation. Liability under this section shall be joint and several for any violation of this section committed by two or more persons.
(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this section concerning treble damages, if the court finds that: (1) A person committing a violation of subsection (a) of this section furnished officials of the state responsible for investigating false claims violations with all information known to such person about the violation not later than thirty days after the date on which the person first obtained the information; (2) such person fully cooperated with an investigation by the state of such violation; and (3) at the time such person furnished the state with the information about the violation, no criminal prosecution, civil action or administrative action had commenced under sections 4-276 to 4-280, inclusive, with respect to such violation, and such person did not have actual knowledge of the existence of an investigation into such violation, the court may assess not less than two times the amount of damages which the state sustains because of the act of such person. Any information furnished pursuant to this subsection shall be exempt from disclosure under section 1-210.
Sec. 4-276. Attorney General’s investigation of prohibited acts. Civil action. The Attorney General may investigate any violation of subsection (a) of section 4-275. Any information obtained pursuant to such an investigation shall be exempt from disclosure under section 1-210. If the Attorney General finds that a person has violated or is violating any provision of subsection (a) of section 4-275, the Attorney General may bring a civil action in the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford under this section in the name of the state against such person.
Sec. 4-277. Civil action by individual. Consent for withdrawal. Manner of service. Complaint under seal. Intervention by Attorney General. (a) A person may bring a civil action in the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford against any person who violates subsection (a) of section 4-275, for the person who brings the action and for the state. Such civil action shall be brought in the name of the state. The action may thereafter be withdrawn only if the court and the Attorney General give written consent to the withdrawing of such action and their reasons for consenting.
(b) A copy of the complaint and written disclosure of substantially all material evidence and information the person who brings such action possesses shall be served on the state by serving the Attorney General in the manner prescribed in section 52-64. The complaint shall be filed in camera, shall remain under seal for at least sixty days and shall not be served on the defendant until the court so orders. The court, upon motion of the Attorney General, may, for good cause shown, extend the time during which the complaint remains under seal. Such motion may be supported by affidavits or other submissions in camera. Prior to the expiration of the time during which the complaint remains under seal, the Attorney General shall: (1) Proceed with the action in which case the action shall be conducted by the Attorney General, or (2) notify the court that the Attorney General declines to take over the action in which case the person bringing the action shall have the right to conduct the action.
(c) If the court orders the complaint to be unsealed and served, the court shall issue an appropriate order of notice requiring the same notice that is ordinarily required to commence a civil action. The defendant shall not be required to respond to any complaint filed under this section until thirty days after the complaint is served upon the defendant.
(d) If a person brings an action under this section, no person other than the state may intervene or bring a related action based on the facts underlying the pending action.
Sec. 4-278. Prosecution by Attorney General. Withdrawal. Settlement. Limits on individual’s participation. Division of proceeds. Attorneys’ fees and costs. (a) If the Attorney General, pursuant to section 4-277, elects to proceed with the action, the Attorney General shall have the primary responsibility for prosecuting the action and shall not be bound by any act of the person bringing the action. Such person shall have the right to continue as a party to the action, subject to the limitations set forth in this section.
(b) The Attorney General may withdraw such action notwithstanding the objections of the person bringing the action if the Attorney General has notified such person of the filing of the motion and the court has provided such person with an opportunity for a hearing on the motion.
(c) The Attorney General may settle the action with the defendant notwithstanding the objections of the person bringing the action if the court determines, after a hearing, that the proposed settlement is fair, adequate and reasonable under all the circumstances. Upon a showing of good cause, such hearing may be held in camera.
(d) Upon a showing by (1) the Attorney General that unrestricted participation during the course of the litigation by the person bringing the action would (A) interfere with or unduly delay the Attorney General’s prosecution of the case, or (B) be repetitious, irrelevant or for purposes of harassment; or (2) the defendant that unrestricted participation during the course of the litigation by the person bringing the action would be for purposes of harassment, or would cause the defendant undue burden or unnecessary expense, the court may, in its discretion, impose limitations on the person’s participation, including, but not limited to, (i) limiting the number of witnesses that such person may call, (ii) limiting the length of the testimony of any such witnesses, (iii) limiting the person’s cross-examination of any such witnesses, or (iv) otherwise limiting the participation by the person in the litigation.
(e) If the court awards civil penalties or damages to the state or if the Attorney General settles with the defendant and receives civil penalties or damages, the person bringing such action shall receive from the proceeds not less than fifteen per cent but not more than twenty-five per cent of such proceeds of the action or settlement of the claim, based upon the extent to which the person substantially contributed to the prosecution of the action. Any such person shall also receive an amount for reasonable expenses which the court finds to have been necessarily incurred, plus reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. All such expenses, fees and costs shall be awarded against the defendant.
(f) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (e) of this section, where the action is one that the court finds to be based primarily on disclosures of specific information that was not provided by the person bringing the action relating to allegations or transactions (1) in a criminal, civil or administrative hearing, (2) in a report, hearing, audit or investigation conducted by the General Assembly, a committee of the General Assembly, the Auditors of Public Accounts, a state agency or a quasi-public agency, or (3) from the news media, the court may award from such proceeds to the person bringing the action such sums as it considers appropriate, but in no case more than ten per cent of the proceeds, taking into account the significance of the information and the role of the person bringing the action in advancing the case to litigation. Any such person shall also receive an amount for reasonable expenses that the court finds to have been necessarily incurred, plus reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. All such expenses, fees and costs shall be awarded against the defendant.
Sec. 4-279. Civil action when Attorney General declines to proceed. Division of proceeds. Attorneys’ fees and costs. Stay of discovery. (a) If the Attorney General declines to proceed with the action, the person who brought the action shall have the right to conduct the action. In the event that the Attorney General declines to proceed with the action, upon the request of the Attorney General, the court shall order that copies of all pleadings filed in the action and copies of any deposition transcripts be provided to the state. When the person who brought the action proceeds with the action, the court, without limiting the status and rights of such person, may permit the Attorney General to intervene at a later date upon a showing of good cause.
(b) A person bringing an action under this section or settling the claim shall receive an amount which the court decides is reasonable for collecting the civil penalty and damages. The amount shall be not less than twenty-five per cent or more than thirty per cent of the proceeds of the action or settlement and shall be paid out of such proceeds. Such person shall also receive an amount for reasonable expenses that the court finds to have been necessarily incurred, plus reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. All such expenses, fees and costs shall be awarded against the defendant.
(c) If a defendant prevails in the action conducted under this section and the court finds that the claim of the person bringing the action was clearly frivolous, clearly vexatious or brought primarily for purposes of harassment, the court may award reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses to the defendant.
(d) Irrespective of whether the Attorney General proceeds with the action, upon request and showing by the Attorney General that certain motions or requests for discovery by a person bringing the action would interfere with the state’s investigation or prosecution of a criminal or civil matter arising out of the same facts, the court may stay such discovery for a period of not more than sixty days from the date of the order of the stay. Such a showing shall be conducted in camera. The court may extend the stay for an additional sixty-day period upon a further showing in camera that the state has pursued the criminal or civil investigation or proceedings with reasonable diligence and any proposed discovery in the civil action will interfere with the ongoing criminal or civil investigation or proceedings. For the purposes of this subsection, the Chief State’s Attorney or state’s attorney for the appropriate judicial district may appear to explain to the court the potential impact of such discovery on a pending criminal investigation or prosecution.
Sec. 4-280. Attorney General’s pursuit of claim through alternate remedy. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 4-277, the Attorney General may elect to pursue the state’s claim through any alternate remedy available to the state, including any administrative proceeding to determine a civil penalty. If any such alternate remedy is pursued in another proceeding, the person bringing the action shall have the same rights in such proceeding as such person would have had if the action had continued under the provisions of sections 4-277 to 4-279, inclusive. Any finding of fact or conclusion of law made in such other proceeding that has become final shall be conclusive on all parties to an action under sections 4-277 to 4-279, inclusive. A finding or conclusion is final if it has been finally determined on appeal to the appropriate court of the state, if the time for filing such an appeal with respect to the finding or conclusion has expired or if the finding or conclusion is not subject to judicial review.
Sec. 4-281. Civil action by individual who committed prohibited act. Reduction of proceeds. Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 4-278 and 4-279, if the court finds that the action was brought by a person who planned and initiated the violation of subsection (a) of section 4-275, upon which violation an action was brought, then the court may reduce the share of the proceeds of the action that the person would otherwise receive under section 4-278 or 4-279, taking into account the role of that person in advancing the case to litigation and any relevant circumstances pertaining to the violation. If a person bringing the action is convicted of criminal conduct arising from his or her role in the violation of subsection (a) of section 4-275, such person shall be dismissed from the civil action and shall not receive any share of the proceeds of the action. Such dismissal shall not prejudice the right of the Attorney General to continue the action.
Sec. 4-282. Court’s jurisdiction over civil actions brought by certain individuals. Duplicate actions. (a) No court shall have jurisdiction over an action brought under section 4-277 (1) against a member of the General Assembly, a member of the judiciary or an elected officer or department head of the state if the action is based on evidence or information known to the state when the action was brought; or (2) that is based upon allegations or transactions that are the subject of a civil suit or an administrative civil penalty proceeding in which the state is already a party.
(b) Unless opposed by the state, the court shall dismiss an action or claim brought under section 4-277 if allegations or transactions that are substantially the same as those alleged in the action or claim were publicly disclosed (1) in a state criminal, civil or administrative hearing in which the state or its agent is a party, (2) in a report, hearing, audit or investigation conducted by the General Assembly, a committee of the General Assembly, the Auditors of Public Accounts, a state agency or quasi-public agency, or (3) by the news media, except the court shall not dismiss such action or claim if the action or claim is brought by the Attorney General or the person who is an original source of information.
(c) For purposes of this section, “original source” means an individual who (1) voluntarily discloses to the state information on which the allegations or transactions in an action or claim are based, prior to public disclosure of such information as described in subdivisions (1), (2) and (3) of subsection (b) of this section, or (2) has knowledge that is independent of and materially adds to the publicly disclosed allegations or transactions and has voluntarily provided the information to the state before filing an action or claim under sections 4-276 to 4-280, inclusive.
Sec. 4-283. State not liable for expenses. The state of Connecticut shall not be liable for expenses which a person incurs in bringing an action under sections 4-277 to 4-280, inclusive.
Sec. 4-284. Discrimination in employment prohibited. Remedies. Attorneys’ fees and costs. (a) Any employee, contractor, or agent shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make that employee, contractor, or agent whole, if that employee, contractor, or agent is discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment because of lawful acts done by the employee, contractor, agent or associated others in furtherance of an action under sections 4-276 to 4-280, inclusive, or other efforts to stop one or more violations of section 4-275.
(b) Relief under subsection (a) of this section shall include reinstatement with the same seniority status that the employee, contractor, or agent would have had but for the discrimination, two times the amount of back pay, interest on the back pay, and compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the discrimination, including litigation costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees. An action under this section may be brought in the Superior Court for the relief provided in this section.
(c) A civil action under this section may not be brought more than three years after the date when the retaliation occurred.
Sec. 4-285. Limitation of action. Pleadings upon state’s intervention. A civil action under sections 4-276 to 4-280, inclusive, may not be brought: (1) More than six years after the date on which the violation of subsection (a) of section 4-275 is committed, or (2) more than three years after the date when facts material to the right of action are known or reasonably should have been known by the official of the state charged with responsibility to act in the circumstances, but in no event more than ten years after the date on which the violation is committed, whichever last occurs. If the state elects to intervene and proceed with an action brought under sections 4-276 to 4-280, inclusive, the state may file its own complaint or amend the complaint of a person who has brought an action under sections 4-276 to 4-280, inclusive, to clarify or add detail to claims in which the state is intervening and to add any additional claim under which the state contends that it is entitled to relief. For statute of limitation purposes, any such state pleading shall relate back to the filing date of the complaint of the person who originally brought the action to the extent that the claim of the state arises out of the conduct, transactions or occurrences set forth or attempted to be set forth in the prior complaint of such person.
Sec. 4-286. Standard of proof. In any action brought under sections 4-276 to 4-280, inclusive, the Attorney General or the person initiating such action shall be required to prove all essential elements of the cause of action, including damages, by a preponderance of the evidence.
Sec. 4-287. Effect of final judgment in criminal proceeding on civil action. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a final judgment rendered in favor of the state against a defendant in any criminal proceeding charging fraud or false statements, whether upon a verdict after trial or upon a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, shall estop such defendant from denying the essential elements of the offense in any action which involves the same transaction as in the criminal proceeding and which is brought in accordance with the provisions of sections 4-276 to 4-280, inclusive.
Sec. 4-288. Remedies not exclusive. The provisions of sections 4-274 to 4-288, inclusive, and subsection (a) of section 4-61dd are not exclusive, and the remedies provided for shall be in addition to any other remedies provided for in any other provision of the general statutes or federal law or available under common law.
Sec. 4-289. Report by Attorney General re civil actions. On January 1, 2015, and annually thereafter, the Attorney General shall submit a report to the General Assembly and the Governor, in accordance with section 11-4a, that contains the following information:
(1) The number of civil actions the Attorney General filed during the previous fiscal year under sections 4-276 to 4-280, inclusive;
(2) The number of civil actions private persons filed during the previous fiscal year under sections 4-276 to 4-280, inclusive, including the number of civil actions that remain under seal, along with (A) the state or federal courts in which such civil actions were filed and the number of civil actions filed in each such court, (B) the state program or agency involved in each civil action, and (C) the number of civil actions filed by private individuals who previously had filed an action based on the same or similar transactions or allegations under the federal False Claims Act, 31 USC 3729-3733, as amended from time to time, or the false claims act of any other state; and
(3) The amount that was recovered by the state under sections 4-276 to 4-280, inclusive, in settlement, damages and penalties and the litigation cost, if known, along with the (A) case number and parties for each civil action where there was a recovery, (B) separate amount of any funds recovered for damages, penalties and litigation costs, and (C) percentage of the recovery and the amount that the state paid to any private person who brought the civil action.