When someone identifies an act of health care fraud, it is important that they speak up. However, under the False Claims Act (FCA) the ways in which they speak up are limited by Federal law. A recent Supreme Court ruling on qui tam lawsuits arising under the FCA will have broad implications for whistleblowers.
According to the LII Supreme Court Bulletin, Benjamin Carter first filed a qui tam suit against Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. (KBR) in 2006. His lawsuit alleged that KBR had fraudulently billed the United States government for water purification services that were either performed improperly or not performed at all. The District Court dismissed the complaint based on the first-to-file rule which states that when a private person brings a qui tam lawsuit under the FCA, no person can bring a related action based on the same underlying facts. In this case, Mr. Carter’s complaint was dismissed because there was a pending case with similar claims that had been filed earlier. While Mr. Carter appealed, the pending case was dismissed. Mr. Carter filed a new lawsuit, which was also dismissed for the same reason – the pending case was now pending on appeal.