CIVIL FALSE CLAIMS ACT:  Supreme Court Squarely Rejects Justice Department’s Use of Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act in Civil FCA Actions, but Offers Hope to Relators with Its First-to-File Ruling

CIVIL FALSE CLAIMS ACT:  Supreme Court Squarely Rejects Justice Department’s Use of Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act in Civil FCA Actions, but Offers Hope to Relators with Its First-to-File Ruling


By: Douglas W. Baruch, John T. Boese, Jennifer M. Wollenberg

Today, in a blow to Justice Department efforts to expand False Claims Act ("FCA") enforcement to otherwise stale conduct, the Supreme Court ruled that the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act ("WSLA") has no place in the civil FCA arena.  At the same time, the Court resolved a circuit court split on the FCA's "first-to-file" bar, ruling that later suits are not barred unless a prior suit is still active.  On both issues, the Court's opinion in Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Carter,No. 12-1497 (U.S. May 26, 2015)—authored by Justice Alito—was unanimous and largely expected following oral argument in January 2015.  Nonetheless, it is notable that the Court took the opportunity to criticize the poor legislative draftsmanship that plagues the FCA, even as it concluded that there was little it could do to combat that overarching problem.

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