Supreme Court ruling gives whistleblowers more time to file false claims suits

The Supreme Court on May 13 affirmed a federal appeals court's ruling that expands the amount of time whistleblowers have to file actions under the False Claims Act.

In Cochise Consultancy Inc. v. United States, ex rel. Hunt, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a second statute of limitations that Congress added to the False Claims Act in 1986 applies to whistleblower suits in which the federal government declines to intervene. In affirming the decision, the Supreme Court extended the amount of time whistleblowers have to file false claims actions by up to four years, according to The National Law Review.

Prior to the Supreme Court's ruling, there was a consensus among the courts that the six-year limitation period to bring a false claims action could be extended by up to a total of 10 years if the Department of Justice brought the action and late discovery of the violation prevented compliance with the six-year rule. However, it was unclear whether the extension was available to whistleblowers who brought false claims suits without involvement by the Justice Department.

In light of the Supreme Court's ruling, companies, including those in the healthcare industry, are vulnerable to False Claims Act cases brought by whistleblowers for up to 10 years post-violation, according to The National Law Review.

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