New York State boasts the most powerful False Claims Act (FCA) in the country. Passed in 2007, and strengthened in 2010, it is a critical tool for fighting fraud against the state and creating structural reform. The law allows private citizens with evidence of such fraud to file suit in order to help the state recover the billions of dollars of fraudulent charges billed each year to government entities. When successful, the recovery is equal to three times the amount determined to be defrauded by the government, and the citizen (the whistleblower) receives a monetary award that is typically 15 – 30 percent of the total recovery.

At every stage from conception, to enactment, to implementation, Neil Getnick and Lesley Ann Skillen of Getnick & Getnick have played a major leadership role in overcoming obstacles and gaining support to make both the New York State (NYS) FCA and the New York City (NYC) FCA a reality.

Continuing that work after the passage of the NYS FCA in April 2007, Mr. Getnick and colleagues concentrated on strengthening the law. In August 2010 the legislature passed the Fraud Enforcement Recovery Act, making the amended law the most powerful FCA in the country, including a provision that allows state tax whistleblower cases.

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Conception

1996 – Encouraging a Robust NYS FCA / Resisting Sham Substitutes
Report by the NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section authored by Neil Getnick and Lesley Ann Skillen recommends NYS FCA legislation modeled on the Federal FCA, distinguishing an unacceptable weakened version of the law.
     + NYSBA Report of the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section of the NYSBA (May 1996)

1998 – NYS Bar Association Endorses a Robust NYS FCA Bill
After presentation by Neil Getnick, Chair of the NYSBA Civil Prosecution Committee, and Bernice Lieber, NYSBA Commercial & Federal Litigation Section Chair, the NYSBA Executive Committee endorsed enactment of a robust NYS FCA as advanced in Getnick and Skillen’s 1996 report.
     + NYSBA Minutes – Executive Committee Meeting (Redacted) (1/29/98)
     + NYSBA Newsletter Article (Dec. 1998)

1999 – U.S. Senator Grassley Encourages Passage of the NYS FCA
Following an effort initiated by Neil Getnick, U.S. Senator Charles E. Grassley urges New York Governor, George Pataki, to enact a NYS FCA that is patterned on the federal law. He assures the governor that it will save the state’s taxpayers “significant amounts” that would otherwise be lost to fraud and abuse, adding that the federal FCA has been an effective tool against fraud and a remedy for programs funded by taxpayers.
     + Letter from Senator Grassley to Governor Pataki (7/22/99)

2004 – Neil Getnick Testifies for Passage of a NYC FCA
On June 23 and November 9, 2004, Neil Getnick testifies before NYC City Council Governmental Operations Committee for the passage of a NYC FCA.
     + Neil Getnick’s Remarks to NYC Council (6-23-04)
     + Neil Getnick’s Remarks to NYC Council (11-9-04)

 

Enactment

2005 – Enactment of the New York City False Claims Act
New York City passes its own False Claims Act based on the federal law. The bill is signed into law on May 19, 2005 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the presence of City Council sponsor David Yassky and principal supporter Neil Getnick. Private citizens with unique knowledge of fraud are empowered to bring suit on behalf of the City.
     + Press Release from Council Member David Yassky: “Mayor Bloomberg signs Yassky Bill” (5/19/05)
     + Photo of Bill Signing by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Neil Getnick and David Yassky at his side. Published in The Chief. (May 27, 2005)

2006 – Successfully Resisting Efforts to Derail the NYS FCA
After U.S. Senator Charles Grassley sponsors a key provision to the Federal Deficit Reduction Act, allowing states to keep a greater percentage of their Medicaid fraud recoveries, the NYS Senate passes a sham FCA, excluding the qui tam (whistleblower) provisions and many other key components. At the urging of Neil Getnick, the NYS Bar Association and Taxpayers Against Fraud protest it as ineffective. Getnick, in a Newsday Op Ed, calls it “a toothless bill that lacks all of the essential elements of the Federal False Claims Act.” The bill is not enacted into law.
     + NYS Bar Association Resolution (3/15/06)
     + Newsday Opinion piece by Neil Getnick (6/16/06)
     + TAF News Release: “Taxpayers Against Fraud Blasts Senate Medicaid Bill” (6/14/06)

2007 – Passage of the New York State False Claims Act
With the continued advocacy of Neil Getnick, NYS passes an effective False Claims Act modeled on the federal statute. It is signed into law by Governor Eliot Spitzer in April, 2007. The Corporate Crime Reporter interviews Neil Getnick on the impact of the new law.
     + Corporate Crime Reporter Article & Interview of Neil Getnick (4/30/07)
     + Taxpayers Against Fraud Lobbying Campaign (March 2007)

 

Implementation

2010 Strengthening the NYS FCA
With Neil Getnick and Lesley Skillen’s continued involvement, the NYS legislature passes the Fraud Enforcement Recovery Act amendments creating the most powerful state FCA in the country. Among other things, tax whistleblower cases are permitted under the NYS FCA for the first time.

Getnick & Getnick wins a $600 million Federal and state FCA recovery, including a $22 million + share for NYS under the NYS FCA. In a letter to Neil Getnick, NYS Governor David Patterson praises his “very skillful advocacy . . . courage and determination,” saying, “You were up to the task and achieved a stunning victory.”
     + Senator Schneiderman News Release: “Leaders Praise Schneiderman’s Historic Anti-Fraud Taxpayer Protection Measure” (7/1/10)
     + Medicaid Compliance News (Oct. 2010)
     + Governor Paterson letter to Getnick & Getnick (12/30/10)

2011 Implementing the Enhanced NYS FCA
Newly elected Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announces a new initiative to bolster recovery of taxpayer dollars and fight government fraud by establishing a new Taxpayer Protection Bureau and augment the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to Increase Recoveries. His news release quotes Neil Getnick, Chairman, Taxpayers Against Fraud, supporting the AG’s program as “an effective strategy that more than pays for itself.”

The NYS AG invites FCA lawyers from around the country to a Continuing Legal Education program about using the NYS FCA for “Fighting Fraud Against the Government in the Empire State.” Neil Getnick moderates the panel on the “New Paradigm of Public-Private Partnerships with NYS AG.” Lesley Skillen moderates the panel on “Ethics of Qui Tam [Whistleblower] Practice.”
     + Office of Attorney General Schneiderman: Taxpayer Protection Bureau Unit Announcement (1/27/11)
     + Office of Attorney General Schneiderman: Continuing Legal Education Program (6/8/11)
     + Continuing Legal Education Program presented by Getnick & Getnick at the NYC Bar Association (Nov. 2011)

2012 Neil Getnick Testifies for Extending the Reach of the NYC FCA
At the invitation of the NYC Council Governmental Operations Committee, Neil Getnick testifies on January 20, 2012, citing the value of the NYC FCA law since its enactment and encouraging its extension beyond the 2012 seven year sunset date.

On April 16, 2012, following up on the Committee’s January hearing, Neil Getnick testifies again at the invitation of the City Council Governmental Operations Committee. He speaks in favor of newly proposed legislation to preserve, extend and improve the NYC FCA and to extend outreach to, and strengthen anti-retaliation protections for, whistleblowers. His testimony recommends further improvements as well.
     + Neil Getnick’s Testimony – NYC Council FCA Hearing (1/20/12)
     + Neil Getnick’s Testimony & Supplemental Statement – NYC Council FCA Hearing (4/16/12)
     + Neil Getnick Testifying at the NYC Council Hearing (4/16/12 Photo One)
     + Neil Getnick Testifying at the NYC Council Hearing (4/16/12 Photo Two)