The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on Tuesday in Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States, a case that will determine the statute of limitations window for False Claims Act (FCA) cases when the government declines to intervene.
At issue: How should the statute of limitations apply in a qui tam suit in which the United States declines to intervene? Does the three-year limitations period begin to run from the date of the whistleblower’s knowledge of the alleged false claim. Or does it begin on the date of the government official’s knowledge of the alleged false claim?
The case revolves around whistleblower Billy Joe Hunt. In 2013, he filed a qui tam case alleging fraud by his former employer, a war contractor performing munitions clean-up work in Iraq in 2006. The government declined to intervene in Hunt’s case and it was dismissed by a district court. The Eleventh Circuit then allowed the case to go forward ruling that the FCA’s three-year limitations period was triggered by the government’s knowledge of the alleged fraud—not the whistleblower’s knowledge.
Those arguing in support of the Eleventh Circuit ruling include the federal government and a 20-state coalition. An amicus brief filed on the coalition’s behalf by the Indiana attorney general argues that the states have a “strong fiscal interest in ensuring the False Claims Act (FCA) provides adequate time to investigate, prepare, and file FCA claims.”