The federal government enlists several methods to identify and eliminate fraud. Given the size of the federal government, standard investigative techniques are not enough to prevent efforts to defraud the government. While these efforts typically involve reports or whistleblower complaints, there is a federal law that allows direct action against an individual defrauding the government. This law is known as the False Claims Act.
While the False Claims Act allows direct legal action against certain government contractors believed to have defrauded the government, pursuing these claims without a seasoned Qui Tam attorney can be difficult. You could benefit from allowing a Charleston False Claims Act lawyer to review your case prior to moving forward with a lawsuit.
Lawsuits filed under the False Claims Act follow a different path than most legal cases. Initially, the plaintiff (known as a relator) must file the legal claim under seal in federal court.
Filing the case under seal in federal court means that they remain out of the public eye for at least 60 days. The purpose of this requirement is to allow the government to privately investigate the allegations without them first becoming public. The court has the power to extend this 60-day period for good cause.
An important way that these claims differ from standard lawsuits is that the federal government has the power to intervene in a False Claims Act case. While the case is under seal, the government will review the allegations and determine if they wish to pursue the case moving forward. If they do, the government will bear the costs of litigating the case moving forward.
If the government decides not to intervene, the relator can pursue the case on their own. The FCA case would then become unsealed, and the lawsuit would proceed as normal with a Charleston attorney. However, the government could intervene and take over the case at any point.
As with any other lawsuit, there is a deadline that applies to the filing of a False Claims Act case. However, this deadline can vary depending on the circumstances. In general, federal law requires a relator to bring a lawsuit under the False Claims Act within six years of the fraudulent activity occurring. This is known as the statute of limitations.
It is possible to extend this deadline beyond the standard six years in some cases. If the defendant masked the existence of the fraudulent activity, a relator could bring the claim within three years from when the government should have had reason to know about the fraud. This could extend the statute of limitations substantially. However, this right of repose will only extend the right to bring a lawsuit to a maximum of ten years from the date the fraud occurred. This 10-year window is the maximum amount of time available to file a lawsuit under the False Claims Act under any circumstances. An attorney from the Charleston area could help a relator ensure they comply with the False Claims Act statute of limitations.
False Claims Act lawsuits are an unusual but particularly powerful tool to fight fraud against the federal government. If you are considering a case under the False Claims Act, understand the process can be challenging.
A Charleston False Claims Act lawyer could ensure you comply with the requirements of these cases, including the statute of limitations. Call today to move forward with your False Claims Act case.