Changes to the Massachusetts False Claims Act that Affect Whistleblower Lawsuits

Posted by David P. McCormack

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As we previously informed you, Massachusetts has a False Claims Act that provides financial incentive for whistleblowers to come forward and report corporate abuse or fraud against the Commonwealth. Since that time, Massachusetts has amended its False Claims Act (M.G.L., c. 12, §§5A-5O) to provide greater incentive for whistleblowers to come forward while also enlarging the claims that can be brought under the Act.

The amendments make several key changes to the Massachusetts False Claims Act. First, the amendments eliminate a court's ability to reduce or eliminate the percentage of any recovered money (either through settlement or trial) that a whistleblower is entitled to as a result of a successful whistleblower lawsuit. Previously, courts could eliminate or reduce the percentage if the whistleblower participated in the fraudulent activity.

Second, the amendments broaden the definition of "original source". Previously, a whistleblower had to be the "original source" of information on which the lawsuit was based and a whistleblower or qui tam case could not be brought where the whistleblower was coming forward with information that was already in the public domain. Now, a whistleblower can be entitled to a percentage of any recovery if he or she has additional information to that which has already been publicly disclosed, i.e. a whistleblower may be entitled to a percentage of any recovery if he or she has information that materially adds to a pre-existing False Claims Act. Lastly, the amendments expand the categories of people who are protected by the anti-retaliation provisions in Section 5J. All in all, the amendments provide even greater incentive for persons with information concerning corporate fraud being committed against Massachusetts to engage the services of a lawyer and pursue a whistleblower claim.

If you have questions regarding a potential whistleblower case under either federal or Massachusetts law, please fill out a Contact Form, call Benjamin Zimmermann or David McCormack at 617-542-1000 or e-mail Benjamin Zimmermann or David McCormack.