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Jul 10, 2019 by |

Private Whistleblowers May Have Up To Ten Years To Report Fraud


False Claims Against the Federal Government

Private Whistleblowers May Have Up To Ten Years To Report Fraud

The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that private persons in some situations may have up to 10 years from an alleged fraud against the government to file a whistleblower (also known as qui tam) action under the False Claims Act (“FCA”), 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 et seq. In Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Hunt,[1] the Court unanimously held that Section 3731(b)(2) of the FCA applies in all qui tam suits where the provision’s requirements are met, giving whistleblowers 10 years after commission of  the alleged fraud to bring suit in certain situations. The ruling is expected to increase the incentives and opportunities for private citizens to bring qui tam cases under the FCA.

Under the FCA, the federal government rewards whistleblowers who present credible, original information of false claims made to government agencies for payments and reimbursements.  The California whistleblower attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. represent whistleblowers/relators in False Claims Act cases against healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, government contractors, product manufacturers, research institutions, and others who may commit fraud against the government by overcharging, billing for services or equipment that is never provided, paying illegal kickbacks, and/or falsifying data in order to receive government payments or grants.  If you have credible information for a false claims whistleblower case or any other whistleblower case in California, call us today at (415)441-8669 and we can help.

The Supreme Court in its Cochise opinion ruled that the 10-year statute of limitations applies to False Claims whistleblower suits even when the government declines to enter the case.  The Court dismissed defendant’s arguments that § 3731(b)(2) should only apply when the government is a party.  Such an interpretation according to the Supreme Court is “at odds with fundamental rules of statutory interpretation.” Cochise, Slip. op. 5. By holding that relators in declined cases can take advantage of the 10-year limit in § 3731(b)(2), the Supreme Court rejected the view held by the three other courts of appeals to have addressed this question (the Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits), which had all held that relators in declined cases were confined to the six-year statute of limitations in § 3731(b)(1). The Supreme Court also rejected Cochise’s argument that the relator in a declined case should be considered “the official of the United States charged with responsibility to act in the circumstance” for purposes of triggering the 3-year period within which the complaint must be filed to get § 3731(b)(2)’s 10-year limitations period. A private relator is not ordinarily an “official of the United States;” nor does the FCA’s text contemplate such a result, according to the Court. 

The Cochise opinion thus significantly lengthens the period in which a private individual can bring a False Claims whistleblower case under certain conditions. The consequences of the decision are potentially far greater for defendants that submit claims for government payments on a recurring basis, such as those in the health care field and government contractors with long-term contracts. For these entities, the decision means that relators will be able to seek treble damages plus per-claim penalties for 10 years’ worth of false claims.

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Our whistleblower attorneys handle all types of whistleblower cases in addition to false claims cases, including cases for bank fraud under FIRREA/FIAFEA, commodity trading and securities fraud under the Commodities Futures Trading Commission Whistleblower Program and the Securities and Exchange Commission Whistleblower Program, and tax fraud under the Internal Revenue Service Whistleblower Program. If you or a loved one has information regarding false claims, offshore tax avoidance schemes against the IRS, or securities and commodity trading fraud in violation of SEC and CFTC regulations, contact Ingrid M. Evans and the other California whistleblower and false claims attorneys at Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=””></a>. Our attorneys have experience with complex financial contracts and large insurance companies.  We can help guide your case through a jury trial or toward an equitable settlement.  We also handle cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, nursing home abuse, whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.

[1] No. 18-315 (U.S. May 13, 2019). Evans Law Firm was not involved in the case in any way

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