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SCOTUS Expands Statute of Limitations for FCA Whistleblowers

Under the federal False Claims Act, a false claim action must be brought by whichever is later: (1) six years after the violation or (2) “3 years after the date when facts material to the right of action are known or reasonably should have been known by the official of the United States charged with responsibility to act in the circumstances, but in no event more than 10 years after the date on which the violation is committed.”

In Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Hunt, the question considered by the U.S. Supreme Court was whether a qui tam relator could benefit from the longer limitations period provided by Section 3731(b)(2) when the government had declined to intervene in the action. In a 9-0 decision, the Court held that Section 3731(b)(2)’s tolling provision applies to all FCA cases, including ones to which the government has not intervened as a party. The May 13 ruling effectively expands the window in which a private relator may bring a claim, even if the government ultimately decides to stay on the sidelines and not intervene in the lawsuit.