How Long Do False Claims Act Cases Take?

False Claims Act Attorney Tony Munter discusses how long False Claims Act cases take and why. For more information on False Claims Act cases, contact a lawyer today.

Why Do You Think it Takes So Long For False Claims Cases to Get Resolved?

Well any litigation takes a long time of course. False Claims Acts cases are subject to particularly complex procedures. The cases have to be filed initially ‘Under Seal’ of the court and the government then gets a period of time to investigate the allegations and decide if they want to support or takeover the case. So that process can take quite a while.

There have been more and more of these cases filed over the last 3 or 4 years and I don’t believe that the government has gotten more resources to investigate these cases at least not commensurate with the number of cases that are being filed. So that process is not sped up necessarily and they are complex cases.

There is generally no such thing as a small False Claims Act case so investigating the allegations can take quite a bit of time and then once that is done assuming that the case goes forward either by virtue of the government taking it over or because a private party wants to litigate it they are big cases. They can be ‘Bet the Farm’ cases and so defendants tend to fight them pretty hard. So under those circumstances fast settlement might not be in the cards. Sometimes it is. Sometimes you know settlement can be reached relatively quickly but I think the additional step of having to present the case to the government can take some time and it is usually worth it. If you can get the government to support a case it is the best way to achieve a successful result.

How Long Does a Case Stay ‘Under Seal’?

The case is filed ‘Under Seal’ and the statute says that it stays ‘Under Seal’ for 60 days or can be extended for good cause shown by the government. In practice this means that the case will usually stay ‘Under Seal’ for considerably longer than that. The government needs time to fully investigate the claims and although courts have gotten a little less willing to take every extension request by the government and pass them without restrictions the courts have gotten a little bit more willing to question the government on its requests for extension.

The government nonetheless when they can demonstrate good cause, and they usually can, will get an extension for the seal and cases have stayed ‘Under Seal’ for you know as long as 3 or 4 years, even longer in some instances when they are complicated and require a great deal of investigation they can stay under the seal. That is not necessarily a bad thing for the Whistleblower by the way.

If the government is fully investigating and on its way to achieving a settlement or on its way to finding the key evidence that will vindicate the Whistleblower, having the case ‘Under Seal’ can be to the Whistleblower’s benefit. The Whistleblower is not really exposed at this point. Nobody is supposed to know if the case is going on. So having the case ‘Under Seal’ may not be the worst thing in the world for a Whistleblower.

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