DOJ Says Supreme Court Should Not Review False Claims Act Dispute
According to a report from Reuters, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is saying that the Supreme Court of the United States should not review a False Claims Act dispute. The DOJ contends that there is no sufficiently large circuit split for the nation’s top court to get involved in the matter. Here, our whistleblower rights lawyers provide a more detailed explanation of the legal issue in this case.
Background: The False Claims Act has Strong Whistleblower Protection Provisions
Sometimes referred to as the ‘Lincoln Law’, the False Claims Act is a federal statute that imposes liability on parties that defraud or otherwise improperly bill federal programs. Most often, the defendants in False Claims Act lawsuits are federal contractors. Contractors within the health care industry and the defense industry are most often cited in False Claims Act litigation.
Notably, the False Claims Act is one of the strongest and most comprehensive whistleblower protection statutes. Any individual whistleblower or group of whistleblowers who has knowledge of fraudulent billing can file a private claim called a qui tam lawsuit. This type of legal action allows the whistleblower to bring legal action on behalf of the government. If successful, the whistleblower can receive a share of the ultimate financial recovery as an award.
Legal Conflict: An Alleged Circuit Split Related to False Claims Act Whistleblower Protections
A woman named Jolie Johnson filed a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit against a Georgia-based private health contractor called Bethany Hospice & Palliative Care in 2019. She alleged that physicians were receiving illegal kickbacks for recommending certain services in violation of Medicare and Medicaid billing regulations. However, eventually, that False Claims Act lawsuit was dismissed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The court stated that the qui tam claim lacked sufficient specificity and details regarding the alleged fraudulent billing practices. Ms. Johnson filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States on the grounds that different circuit courts are applying different standards to False Claims Act cases. She contends that the Eleventh Circuit standard was “rigid”, whereas her complaint would have survived dismissal in several other circuits.
DOJ Position: No Circuit Split, Supreme Court Should Not Hear the Case
The DOJ has now filed an Amicus Brief with its response. The position of the U.S. government is that the Supreme Court should not hear the case. It argues that perfect uniformity is not needed for False Claims Act cases in different circuits and that there is no sufficiently large existing circuit split to justify a ruling from the Supreme Court.
We Protect the Rights of Whistleblowers Nationwide
At Guttman, Freidin & Celler, we have more than 100 years of combined legal experience handling whistleblower claims. Our law firm helps whistleblowers navigate the False Claims Act. If you have any questions about your rights, we are more than ready to help you find the answers. Contact us today for a 100 percent free initial consultation. Our whistleblower lawyers provide nationwide legal representation in False Claims Act cases.