Sixth Circuit Provides Clarification on False Claims Act Whistleblower Statute of Limitations

On January 10, 2022, the Sixth Circuit ruled the statute of limitations period for False Claims Act whistleblower retaliation cases begins when the whistleblower is first notified of the adverse retaliatory action.

This clarification came in the ruling of El-Khalil v. Oakwood Healthcare, Inc.

Case background

The plaintiff in the case, El-Khalil, witnessed employees of Oakwood Healthcare submitting fraudulent claims to Medicare, which he then reported to the federal government. In 2015, the healthcare system’s Medical Executive Committee rejected El-Khalil’s application to renew his position as a podiatrist on staff.

He appeared in front of Oakwood’s Joint Conference Committee on September 22, 2016. The JFCC voted to affirm the Medical Executive Committee’s decision, and informed El-Khalil on September 27.

Three years later, on September 27, 2019, El-Khalil sued Oakwood for retaliation under the False Claims Act. Oakwood, however, moved for summary dismissal because the claim was not filed in a timely manner according to FCA rules.

The Sixth Circuit agreed with a district court decision that the text of the FCA unequivocally states that a whistleblower action “may not be brought more than three years after the date when the retaliation occurred.” This means the statute of limitations period begins as soon as the plaintiff can file a suit, not when the plaintiff discovers the retaliation. This meant that the start of the statute of limitations was September 22, not September 27.

The implications of this case are clear for whistleblowers; it is critical to be efficient and expedient when preparing to file a FCA case or other type of whistleblower retaliation claim. Some types of whistleblower cases have very short statutes of limitations and others provide more time. If you believe you have a case, you should connect with a whistleblower attorney as soon as possible so you can be sure you meet all necessary deadlines.

For more information about the process of a FCA case and what to do if you have been a victim of whistleblower retaliation, contact an experienced whistleblower lawyer at Kardell Law Group. Our team of skilled attorneys is pleased to guide you through your legal issues.