Parsons Corp, a government contractor, is alleged to have increased its wealth by tricking a legally blind official. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court appears likely to side against the contractor in a case that hinges on how much time whistleblowers have to file a claim.
The law gives seemingly contradictory time windows in which whistleblowers may file a lawsuit. One sets a six-year window that opens up immediately after the alleged violation, while another provision allows suits to be filed within three years after the federal government first learns of the fraud. The latter provision also has a cap preventing claims from being filed more than 10 years after the alleged fraudulent incident occurred.
Background of the case
The suit was brought in 2013 in reference to a contract that had been designed to clean up munitions left by retreating forces during the Iraq war. Parsons Corp. won the contract and hired Cochise Consultancy for security. The whistleblower, Billy Joe Hunt, claims Cochise bribed an official in the government to give them the security services portion of the contract, after the security had initially been contracted to a different company that offered its services cheaper.
According to Hunt, that person put a forged document in front of a legally blind federal official, not telling him it would rescind the contract award the government had given to that other company and give it to Cochise instead.
The government declined to intervene at first, and the District Court tossed out the suit, saying it had passed its statute of limitations, but the 11th Circuit found the matter to be less open-and-shut, and the question then became whether the federal government must intervene in the lawsuit for the statute of limitations to start ticking.
It remains to be seen how the Supreme Court will rule in the case, but its decision could have wide-reaching implications for the field of whistleblower law.
For more information and guidance on how to proceed with a whistleblower claim, meet with a knowledgeable attorney at Kardell Law Group.