High Court Ruling on FCA Limitations Period, Bar on Filings Gives Providers Mixed Result

On May 26, 2015 a unanimous decision was announced by the U.S. Supreme Court that said a strict six-year limitations period applies to civil actions brought by whistle-blowers under the False Claims Act.

The court’s interpretation is a “common sense reading” of the statute, Joseph E.B. “Jeb” White of Nolan Auerbach & White PL, Philadelphia, told Bloomberg BNA May 26. White filed an amicus curiae brief in support.

The opinion will have a significant impact on existing qui tam actions and on cases going forward, White said.

“What happens in the real world is, people come to us with a potential claim, and the first thing we try to do is find out if there’s another case that’s currently pending,” White said.

Having to go back and also look for “some dusty case” that was dismissed “for whatever reason” years ago “really does undercut our ability to prosecute fraud cases,” he said.

“If it had gone the other way,” it would discourage “a lot of cases from ever being filed,” White said.

One “simply can’t take the risk of encouraging people to step forward and potentially be blackballed in an industry” without a level of comfort and certainty” that the case won’t be immediately thrown out, he said.

Here the court “laid out a very clear bright line rule for relators and relators’ counsel to understand, so they can go forward with some level of certainty,” White said.

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