Section 5N: Civil investigative demands; attorney general
Section 5N. (1) Notwithstanding any general or special law, procedural rule or regulation to the contrary, whenever the attorney general or a designee has reason to believe that a person may be in possession, custody or control of documentary material or information relevant to a false claims law investigation, the attorney general or a designee may, before commencing a civil action under paragraph (1) of section 5C or other false claims law, or making an election to intervene under paragraph (3) of said section 5C, issue in writing and cause to be served upon such person, a civil investigative demand requiring such person to: (i) produce such documentary material for inspection and copying; (ii) answer written interrogatories, in writing and under oath; (iii) give oral testimony under oath; or (iv) furnish any combination of such material, answers or testimony. The attorney general may delegate to an assistant attorney general the authority to issue civil investigative demands under this section.
(2) Service of a demand pursuant to paragraph (1) may be made by: (i) delivering a copy thereof to the person to be served or to a partner or to any officer or agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process on behalf of such person; (ii) delivering a copy thereof to the principal place of business or the last and usual place of abode in the commonwealth of the person to be served; or (iii) mailing by registered or certified mail a copy thereof addressed to the person to be served at the person's last and usual place of abode, the principal place of business in the commonwealth or, if said person has no place of business in the commonwealth, to the person's principal office or place of business.
(3) Each such demand requesting documentary material or oral testimony shall (i) state the time and place of the taking of testimony or the examination and the name and address of each person to be examined, if known, and, if the name is not known, a general description sufficient to identify the person or the particular class or group to which the person belongs; (ii) state the nature of the conduct constituting the alleged violation of a false claims law which is under investigation, and the applicable provision of law alleged to be violated; (iii) describe the class or classes of documentary material to be produced thereunder with such definiteness and certainty as to permit such material to be fairly identified; (iv) prescribe a return date within which the documentary material is to be produced; (v) identify the members of the attorney general's staff to whom such documentary material is to be made available for inspection and copying; and (vi) if such demand is for the giving of oral testimony, notify the person receiving the demand of the right to be accompanied by an attorney and any other representative, prescribe a date, time and place at which oral testimony shall be commenced, identify the assistant attorney general who shall conduct the examination and to whom the transcript of such examination shall be submitted, specify that such attendance and testimony are necessary to the conduct of the investigation, and describe the general purpose for which the demand is being issued and the general nature of the testimony, including the primary areas of inquiry, which will be taken pursuant to the demand. Notice of the time and place of taking oral testimony shall be given by the attorney general at least ten days prior to the date of such taking of testimony or examination, unless the attorney general or an assistant attorney general designated by the attorney general determines that exceptional circumstances are present which warrant such taking of testimony within a lesser period of time.
(4) The oral examination of all persons pursuant to sections 5B to 5O, inclusive, shall be conducted before a person duly authorized to administer oaths by the law of the commonwealth. Rule 30(e) of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure shall be applicable to oral examinations conducted pursuant to said sections 5B to 5O, inclusive.
(5) Any person compelled to appear for oral testimony under a civil investigative demand issued under said sections 5B to 5O may be accompanied, represented and advised by counsel. Counsel may advise such person, in confidence, with respect to any question asked of such person. Such person or counsel may object on the record to any question, in whole or in part, and shall briefly state for the record the reason for the objection. An objection may be made, received, and entered upon the record when it is claimed that such person is entitled to refuse to answer the question on the grounds of any constitutional or other legal right or privilege, including the privilege against self-incrimination. Such person may not otherwise object to or refuse to answer any question, and may not directly or through counsel otherwise interrupt the oral examination. If such person refuses to answer any question, a motion may be filed for an order compelling such person to answer such question.
(6) The production of documentary material in response to a civil investigative demand served under sections 5B to 5O, inclusive, shall be made under a sworn certificate, in such form as the demand designates, by (i) in the case of a natural person, the person to whom the demand is directed, or (ii) in the case of a person other than a natural person, a person having knowledge of the facts and circumstances relating to such production and authorized to act on behalf of such person. The certificate shall state that all of the documentary material required by the demand and in the possession, custody or control of the person to whom the demand is directed has been produced and made available to the members of the attorney general's staff identified in the demand.
(7) Each written interrogatory served under sections 5B to 5O, inclusive, shall be answered separately and fully in writing under the penalties of perjury. The person upon whom the interrogatories have been served shall serve the answers and objections, if any, upon the attorney general within 14 days after service of the interrogatories.
(8) Any documentary material or other information produced by a person pursuant to sections 5B to 5O, inclusive, shall not, unless otherwise ordered by a justice of the superior court for good cause shown, be disclosed to any other person other than the authorized agent or representative of the attorney general and any officer or employee of the commonwealth who is working under their direct supervision with respect to the false claims law investigation, unless with the consent of the person producing the same, except that any information obtained by the attorney general under this section may be shared with any qui tam relator if the attorney general determines it is necessary as part of a false claims act investigation. Such documentary material or information may be disclosed by the attorney general in court proceedings or in papers filed in court. Nothing in this section shall preclude the attorney general from disclosing information and evidence secured pursuant to said sections 5B to 5O, inclusive, to officials of the United States, other states, the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof charged with the responsibility for enforcement of federal, state or local laws respecting fraud or false claims upon federal, state or local governments. Prior to any such disclosure, the attorney general shall obtain a written agreement from such officials to abide by the restrictions of this section.
(9) At any time prior to the date specified in the civil investigative demand, or within 21 days after the demand has been served, whichever period is shorter, the court may, upon motion for good cause shown, extend such reporting date or modify or set aside such demand or grant a protective order in accordance with the standards set forth in Rule 26(c) of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure. The motion may be filed in the superior court of the county in which the person served resides or has his usual place of business, or in Suffolk county.
(10) Whenever any person fails to comply with any civil investigative demand issued under sections 5B to 5O, inclusive, the attorney general may file, in the superior court of the county in which such person resides, is found, or transacts business, a motion for the enforcement of the civil investigative demand. The Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure shall apply to any such motion. Any final order entered pursuant to such petition may also include the assessment of a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for each act or instance of noncompliance.
(11) All such information and documentary materials as are obtained by the attorney general pursuant to sections 5B to 5O, inclusive, shall not be public records and are exempt from disclosure under section 10 of chapter 66 or any other law.
(12) For purposes of sections 5B to 5O, inclusive, ''documentary material'' shall include the original or any copy of any book, record, report, memorandum, paper, communication, tabulation, chart or other document or graphic representation, or data stored in or accessible through a computer or other information retrieval systems, together with instructions and all other materials necessary to use or interpret such data.
(13) Nothing in sections 5B to 5O, inclusive, shall be construed to authorize the attorney general to compel the production of information or documents from the state auditor or from the inspector general, unless otherwise authorized by law. Nothing in this chapter shall bar the attorney general from referring matters or disclosing information or documents to the state auditor or to the inspector general for purposes or any review or investigation they may deem appropriate.