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Dec 24, 2022 by |

San Francisco Whistleblower Attorney: United States Supreme Court To Review Government Right To Dismiss False Claims Act Qui Tam Actions

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

Important Case Before U.S. Supreme Court

Government Discretion To Move To Dismiss Qui Tam Actions

Private Citizen Qui Tam Actions Recover Billions For Government

Any individual with knowledge of fraud against the government is authorized to bring an action on behalf of the government to recover money paid out on fraudulent claims. See False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 et seq.  These cases are known as “qui tams” and the plaintiffs are referred to as “relators.” Relators can be rewarded 15-30% of the amounts and penalties recovered. 31 U.S.C. § 3730(d). Every year private individuals recoup more money for the government lost to fraud than the government itself does. Last year alone, of the $2.1 billion recovered by the government from wrongdoers, over 80% came from actions brought by private individuals against those businesses perpetrating the fraud.  Under the previous administration, the government moved to dismiss numerous qui tam actions.  Now the question of whether there are limitations on the government’s discretion to make such dismissal motions is before the U.S. Supreme Court.  This is an extremely important case for the future of qui tam actions.   Evans Law Firm, Inc. is not involved in the case but does represent individuals in bringing qui tam actions against those who defraud the government here in San Francisco and throughout California, call us today at (415)441-8669 and we can help. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

U.S. Supreme Court Case[1]  

In any qui tam action, the relator first serves the complaint and a Disclosure Statement on the government and files  the complaint under seal in federal court.  While under seal, the government reviews the case and decide4s whether to intervene or not. In U.S. ex rel. Polansky v. Executive Health Resources, Case No. 21-1052, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the government must first intervene in a qui tam action in order to move for dismissal, and what standard applies to the government’s motion for it to be granted. In Polansky, the Department of Justice had initially allowed Polansky to proceed with the lawsuit against a company he accused of causing millions of dollars in false Medicare bills to the government, but after several years of litigation sought to force dismissal of the case. At issue is whether and when the government has authority to force such a dismissal.  In oral argument last week the justices appeared to reject Polansky’s argument that the government has no such authority as well as the government’s argument that it maintains an unfettered right to dismiss. Instead, the justices appeared focused on identifying the appropriate standard and procedure, seemingly headed toward setting a low bar for the government to clear. 

How A Qui Tam Case Begins

The decision in Polansky will have importance consequences for the effectiveness of qui tam actions in recouping money for the government.  Regardless of the outcome, of course, qui tam actions will continue even if the government has broad power to dismiss them. Qui tam cases begin with filing a complaint under the FCA in the federal district court where the allegedly fraudulent conduct occurred.  31 U.S.C. § 3730(b).  The complaint is filed confidentially under seal and the government has sixty days to review the allegations and decide whether to intervene.  This review period can be extended, and often times is, for a year or more as the government continues to investigate the allegations.  If the government decides to intervene, as in the reported case, the government essentially takes over the litigation.  31 U.S.C. § 3730(c).  If the government decides not to intervene, the relator has the right to continue the litigation on his or her own.  If the relator continues the litigation alone, he or she receive a larger percentage of the amount the government eventually recovers.  31 U.S.C. § 3730(d).  The relator may also pursue claims for wrongful retaliation against the defendant if the relator were fired or demoted as a result of blowing the whistle.  31 U.S.C. § 3730(h).

Contact Us

If you have credible information of healthcare fraud against the government here in San Francisco or elsewhere in California, call Ingrid M. Evans at (415) 441-8669, or toll-free at 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267) or by email at <a href=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</a>.  In addition to FCA whistleblower cases, Ingrid also handles bank fraud whistleblower cases 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. 

[1] Evans Law Firm, Inc. is not involved in the case in any way.

 

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