2021 Florida Statutes (Including 2021B Session)
Civil actions for false claims.
Civil actions for false claims.
68.083 Civil actions for false claims.—
(1) The department may diligently investigate a violation under s. 68.082. If the department finds that a person has violated or is violating s. 68.082, the department may bring a civil action under the Florida False Claims Act against the person. The Department of Financial Services may bring a civil action under this section if the action arises from an investigation by that department and the Department of Legal Affairs has not filed an action under this act.
(2) A person may bring a civil action for a violation of s. 68.082 for the person and for the affected agency. Civil actions instituted under this act shall be governed by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and shall be brought in the name of the State of Florida. Prior to the court unsealing the complaint under subsection (3), the action may be voluntarily dismissed by the person bringing the action only if the department gives written consent to the dismissal and its reasons for such consent.
(3) The complaint shall be identified on its face as a qui tam action and shall be filed in the circuit court of the Second Judicial Circuit, in and for Leon County. Immediately upon the filing of the complaint, a copy of the complaint and written disclosure of substantially all material evidence and information the person possesses shall be served on the Attorney General, as head of the department, and on the Chief Financial Officer, as head of the Department of Financial Services, by registered mail, return receipt requested. The department, or the Department of Financial Services under the circumstances specified in subsection (4), may elect to intervene and proceed with the action, on behalf of the state, within 60 days after it receives both the complaint and the material evidence and information.
(4) If a person brings an action under subsection (2) and the action is based upon the facts underlying a pending investigation by the Department of Financial Services, the Department of Financial Services, instead of the department, may take over the action on behalf of the state. In order to take over the action, the Department of Financial Services must give the department written notification within 20 days after the action is filed that the Department of Financial Services is conducting an investigation of the facts of the action and that the Department of Financial Services, instead of the department, will take over the action filed under subsection (2). If the Department of Financial Services takes over the action under this subsection, the word “department” as used in this act means the Department of Financial Services, and that department, for purposes of that action, shall have all rights and standing granted the department under this act.
(5) The department may, for good cause shown, request the court to extend the time during which the complaint remains under seal under subsection (2). Any such motion may be supported by affidavits or other submissions in camera. The defendant is not required to respond to any complaint filed under this section until 20 days after the complaint is unsealed and served upon the defendant in accordance with law.
(6) Before the expiration of the 60-day period or any extensions obtained under subsection (5), the department shall:
(a) Proceed with the action, in which case the action is conducted by the department on behalf of the state; or
(b) Notify the court that it declines to take over the action, in which case the person bringing the action has the right to conduct the action.
(7) When a person files an action under this section, no person other than the department may intervene or bring a related action based on the facts underlying the pending action.
(8)(a) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the complaint and information held by the department pursuant to an investigation of a violation of s. 68.082 is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
(b) Information made confidential and exempt under paragraph (a) may be disclosed by the department to a law enforcement agency or another administrative agency in the performance of its official duties and responsibilities.
(c) Information made confidential and exempt under paragraph (a) is no longer confidential and exempt once the investigation is completed, unless the information is otherwise protected by law.
(d) For purposes of this subsection, an investigation is considered complete:
1. Under subsection (1) once the department either files its own action or closes its investigation without filing an action.
2. Under subsection (2) upon the unsealing of the qui tam action or its voluntary dismissal prior to any unsealing.
History.—s. 3, ch. 94-316; s. 103, ch. 2003-261; s. 3, ch. 2007-236; s. 3, ch. 2013-104; s. 1, ch. 2013-105; s. 1, ch. 2018-75.