Case Expanding False Claims Act Exposure May Be Reviewed by Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court is deciding whether to review a False Claims Act decision, which held that the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act has suspended the running of the False Claims Act statute of limitations.

The Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act was enacted to lengthen the time to prosecute fraud offenses against the United States and its agencies during times of war "until 5 years after the termination of hostilities as proclaimed by a presidential proclamation, with notice to Congress, or by a concurrent resolution to Congress."

Applying the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act to a False Claims Act claim, a 4th Circuit case held that the False Claims Act statute of limitations has been suspended since the beginning of the war in Iraq, and the statute of limitations will not begin to run until five years after the president or Congress proclaims the hostilities have been terminated. 

Two other district courts have similarly held that the False Claims Act statute of limitations was suspended as a result of the war in Iraq, which began in 2003, as well as the war in Afghanistan, which began in 2001, according to a National Law Review report

None of the cases suspending the statute of limitations have involved hospitals or healthcare providers, but the suspension could still be applied to them because although the 4th Circuit case involved a direct contract with the military, that factor was not mentioned and appeared to have no impact on the decision.

These rulings present tremendous risk to hospitals and other healthcare providers because if the Supreme Court upholds the application of the suspension of the False Claims Act statute of limitations, it would mean the statute of limitations has not begun to run for conduct occurring since 2001, when the armed conflict in Afghanistan began, according to the report. 

The False Claims Act statute of limitations is six years, meaning a case under the Act could not currently be pursued if the conduct occurred before March 2008, but with the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act applied, cases could be brought for conduct that occurred as early as 2001.

More Articles on False Claims Act:

3 Tuomey Trustees Resign From Board in Light of Ongoing Lawsuit 
EndoGastric Solutions Reaches $5M Settlement for Alleged Fraud
Physicians Without Contracts Considered 'Employees' for EMTALA Whistleblower Protection

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