CACI 4800 False Claims Act—Essential Factual Elements (Gov. Code, § 12651)

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

4800 False Claims Act—Essential Factual Elements (Gov. Code, § 12651)

The California False Claims Act allows a public entity to recover damages from any person or entity that knowingly presents  a false claim for payment or approval. [[Name of plaintiff] is an individual who brings this action on behalf of [name of public entity].] [Name of public entity] is a public entity.

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] presented a false claim to [it/[name of public entity]] for payment or approval. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1.That [name of defendant] knowingly presented or caused to be presented a false or fraudulent claim to [name of public entity] for payment or approval;

2.That the claim was false or fraudulent in that [specify reason, e.g., [name of defendant] did not actually perform the work for which payment or approval was sought]; and

3.That [name of defendant]’s false or fraudulent claim was material to [name of public entity]’s decision to pay out money to [name of defendant].

“Knowingly” means that with respect to information about the claim, [name of defendant]

1.had actual knowledge that the information was false; or

2.acted in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information; or

3.acted in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information.

Proof of specific intent to defraud is not required.

“Material” means that the claim had a natural tendency to influence, or was capable of influencing, the payment or receipt of [money/property/services] on the claim.

Directions for Use

An action under the False Claims Act (Gov. Code, § 12650 et seq.) may be brought by the attorney general if state funds are involved, the public entity that claims to have paid out money on a false claim, or by a private person acting as a “qui tam” plaintiff on behalf of the state or public entity. (Gov. Code, § 12650(a)–(c).) Give the optional next-to-last sentence of the opening paragraph if the plaintiff is an individual bringing the action qui tam.

The False Claims Act lists eight prohibited acts that violate the statute. (See Gov. Code, § 12651(a).) Element 1 sets out the first and most common of the prohibited acts—the knowing presentation of a false claim. (See Gov. Code, § 12650(a)(1).) Modify element 1 if a different prohibited act is at issue.

For an instruction on retaliation against an employee for bringing a false claim action, see CACI No. 4600, False Claims Act: Whistleblower Protection—Essential Factual Elements.

Sources and Authority

California False Claims Act. Government Code section 12650 et seq.

“In 1987, the California Legislature enacted the False Claims Act, patterned on a similar federal statutory scheme, to supplement governmental efforts to identify and prosecute fraudulent claims made against state and local governmental entities. As relevant here, the False Claims Act permits the recovery of civil penalties and treble damages from any person who ‘[k]nowingly presents or causes to be presented [to the state or any political subdivision] … a false claim for payment or approval.’ To be liable under the False Claims Act, a person must have actual knowledge of the information, act in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information, and/or act in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information.” (Rothschild v. Tyco Internat. (US), Inc. (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th 488, 494–495 [99 Cal.Rptr.2d 721], internal citations omitted.)

“The Legislature designed the CFCA ‘ “to prevent fraud on the public treasury,” ’ and it ‘ “should be given the broadest possible construction consistent with that purpose.” ’ ” (San Francisco Unified School Dist. ex rel. Contreras v. Laidlaw Transit, Inc. (2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 438, 446 [106 Cal.Rptr.3d 84], internal citations omitted.)

“Since there are no pattern instructions for CFCA claims, the trial court gave instructions taken from the language of the statute. Quoting Government Code section 12651, the trial court explained that a person would be liable for damages under the CFCA if the person ‘(1) Knowingly presents or causes to be presented to an officer or employee of the City, a false claim for payment or approval. [¶] (2) Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used a false record or statement to get a false claim paid or approved by the City.’ The instructions defined ‘person,’ ‘knowingly,’ and ‘claim’ using the language of Government Code section 12650, but did not define the word ‘false.’ Indeed, ‘false’ is not defined in the statute.” (Thompson Pacific Construction, Inc. v. City of Sunnyvale (2007) 155 Cal.App.4th 525, 546 [66 Cal.Rptr.3d 175].)

“We agree with City that the word ‘false’ has no special meaning and that [claimant]’s concern is really related to the mental state necessary for liability under the CFCA, an element that was adequately explained in the instructions that were given.” (Thompson Pacificsupra, 155 Cal.App.4th at p. 547.)

“[A]n alleged falsity satisfies the materiality requirement where it has the ‘ “ ‘natural tendency to influence agency action or is capable of influencing agency action.’ ” [Citation.]’ ” (San Francisco Unified School Dist. ex rel. Contrerassupra, 182 Cal.App.4th at p. 454.)

“Our conclusion that the allegations in the Complaint are sufficient to withstand a demurrer does not mean that every breach of a contract term that is in some sense ‘material’ necessarily satisfies the materiality requirement for a CFCA claim. That is, a false implied certification relating to a ‘material’ contract term may not always be ‘material’ to the government’s decision to pay a contractor. Materiality is a mixed question of law and fact, and a showing in a motion for summary judgment or at trial that the alleged breach would not have affected the payment decision will defeat a CFCA claim.” (San Francisco Unified School Dist. ex rel. Contrerassupra, 182 Cal.App.4th at p. 456, internal citation omitted.)

Secondary Sources

3 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Agency and Employment, §§ 306, 307
5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, § 884
Chin et al., California Practice Guide: Employment Litigation, Ch. 5(II)-B, Retaliation Under Other Whistleblower Statutes, ¶ 5:1770 et seq. (The Rutter Group)
6 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 91, Contractual Arbitration, § 91.08 (Matthew Bender)
40 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 468, Public Entities and Officers: False Claims Actions, § 468.21 (Matthew Bender)