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Copyright (c) 2009 Walter F. George School of Law, Mercer University
Mercer Law Review

Article: Trouble at the Source: The Debates Over the Public Disclosure Provisions of the False Claims Act's Original Source Rule

Winter, 2009

Mercer Law Review

60 Mercer L. Rev. 701


Beverly Cohen*


The federal False Claims Act (the Act) 1 has long been a major tool in rectifying frauds, including healthcare frauds, perpetrated against the federal government. 2 One of the most useful aspects of the Act is the ability of private citizens to sue on behalf of the government when they detect a fraud for which the government has not yet commenced an enforcement action. 3

Unfortunately, these private citizen suit provisions of the Act are less effective than they could be due to disagreement over how to interpret and apply them. 4 In particular, the statutory language relating to public disclosure, critical to determining when citizens may sue, is hopelessly vague and has engendered numerous conflicts among courts. 5

This Article explains the confusion that has resulted from the public disclosure provisions of the Act and suggests logical ways to interpret and apply them. 6 Ultimately, the Article urges a clarification of the statutory language, such as that provided by Senate Bill 2041, 7 considered by Congress in 2007-2008, so that the Act will provide clearer guidance to citizens contemplating suing under the Act. 8 This clarification will encourage citizens to detect frauds against the government and to spearhead collections for violations of the Act, to the benefit of all of us and as the Act was intended.

I. The False Claims Act
The False Claims Act (the Act) 9 provides that anyone who knowingly presents a false claim for payment to the federal government is liable ...
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