The U.S. Supreme Court will be taking a closer look at the federal False Claims Act in the near future. The nation’s high court recently agreed to consider Polansky v. Executive Health Resources, Inc. – with the court’s decision helping to define the scope and extent to which the government can dismiss a FCA lawsuit.
Under the federal False Claims Act, private whistleblowers – known as relators – are permitted to file suits claiming fraud on behalf of the government, with the government having the option to intervene in the case. The relator may continue to pursue the case if the government declines to intervene. The relator receives a hefty share of any proceeds derived from the outcome of the case. Per federal law, the government does have the right to “dismiss a qui tam action ‘notwithstanding the objections of the relator’ so long as the relator receives notice and an opportunity to be heard on the Government’s motion.”
In the Polansky case, the government initially declined to intervene and then 5 years later filed a motion to dismiss the case. A lower court granted the dismissal, to which Polansky appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. In his appeal, Polansky argued that the government did not have a right to dismiss the suit since it initially declined to intervene.
Complicating matters even further is the fact that the circuit courts have given conflicting decisions on the issue due in large part to the law not providing a standard of review for government dismissal motions. As a result, the various circuit courts have adopted a wide range of opinions on the matter. The Supreme Court’s review of the Polansky case should provide a universal standard for courts to apply when faced with a motion to dismiss under the FCA.
More details about the Polansky case can be found here.