(a) The Attorney General shall have the authority to investigate, institute proceedings, compromise and settle any investigation or action, and perform all duties in connection with any civil action to enforce G.S. 108A-70.12.
(b) A civil action under G.S. 108A-70.12 may not be brought more than six years after the date the violation of G.S. 108A-70.12 is committed, or more than three years after the date when facts material to the right of action are known or reasonably should have been known by the official of the State of North Carolina charged with responsibility to act in the circumstances, but in no event more than 10 years after the date on which the violation is committed, whichever occurs last.
(c) In any action brought under G.S. 108A-70.12, the State shall be required to prove all essential elements of the cause of action, including damages, by the greater weight of the evidence.
(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of law or rule, a final judgment rendered in favor of the State in any criminal proceeding charging fraud or false statements, whether upon a verdict after trial or upon a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, shall estop the defendant from denying the essential elements of the offense in any action which involves the same transaction as in the criminal proceeding and which is brought under G.S. 108A-70.12.
(e) No criminal or administrative action need be brought against any provider as a condition for establishing civil liability under G.S. 108A-70.12. The civil liability under G.S. 108A-70.12 is in addition to any other criminal, civil, and administrative liabilities or penalties that may be prescribed by law. However, treble and double damages and civil penalties provided by G.S. 108A-70.12 shall not be assessed against a provider if treble or double damages or civil penalties have been previously assessed against the provider for the same claims under the federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729, et seq., or the federal Civil Monetary Penalty Law, 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7a. In the event that any provider is found liable under the provisions of this Act and is subsequently found liable for the same claim under the federal False Claims Act, or the appropriate sections of the federal Civil Monetary Penalty Law, the State and the Medical Assistance Program shall pay to the federal government on behalf of the provider any amounts, other than restitution, recovered or otherwise obtained by the State under this Act, not to exceed the amount of the federal damages and penalties.
(f) The amount of damages and number of violations of G.S. 108A-70.12 shall be established by the trial judge or, in the event of a jury trial, by jury verdict. The amount of penalties, treble or double damages, interest, cost of the investigation, and cost of the civil action shall be determined by the trial judge as prescribed in G.S. 108A-70.12(b).
(g) Venue for any action brought pursuant to G.S. 108A-70.12 shall be in either Wake County or in any county in which claim originated, or in which any statement or record was made, or acts done, or services, goods, or accommodations rendered in connection with any act constituting part of the violation of G.S. 108A-70.12. (1997-338, s. 1.)