A recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court means whistleblowers will have an additional four years to file False Claims Act lawsuits in the healthcare and various other industries.
The ruling, which was unanimous, came in the case of Cochise Consultancy v. U.S. ex rel. Hunt. It states that FCA claimants have three years to file a suit after a responsible federal official knew or should have known the relevant facts associated with the case, but no more than 10 years after the alleged violation occurred. That longer statute of limitations applies for cases in which the federal government failed to intervene. Prior to the ruling, the FCA statute of limitations varied depending on the state.
Impact of the decision
The decision will likely lead to an increased number of qui tam whistleblower cases, and could make defending against those lawsuits a little more difficult. Businesses and organizations will need to start holding onto records longer and performing more thorough exit interviews with employees, as there is now a longer window of time in which these suits could take place.
The effect could be particularly notable in the healthcare industry, as the vast majority of FCA settlements and judgments come in healthcare-related fields. The U.S. Department of Justice made $2.8 billion in recoveries in these suits last year, and $2.5 billion of those involved the healthcare industry. Of that $2.5 billion, about $2.1 billion resulted from cases filed by whistleblowers that the government then joined in on. For their part, whistleblowers received $301 million from settlements in those cases.
To learn more about the impact this case and decision could have on whistleblower law, meet with an experienced lawyer at Kardell Law Group.