There are many factors to consider when you have a False Claims Act Case under seal. Failure to pay attention to the rules required when a case is under seal or to follow through with such requirements could have a negative impact on a False Claims Act Case. Consult with a knowledgeable DC attorney to learn more about why it is important to adhere to the rules of a case under seal. A lawyer can go into detail regarding what to know about False Claims Act cases under seal.
What is Included in the Disclosure?
All relevant information pertaining to a False Claims Act case would be included in a disclosure. This would include the Relator’s allegations and how the Relator came to understand those allegations. Other information not always related to the case that may be included in a disclosure may include the Relator’s resume and background.
Rules Surrounding a Case Under Seal
When a False Claims Act is under seal, one certainly cannot confirm the existence of the case, but in most cases, it is mostly advised not to speak of the case in any way. Sanctions for violating this requirement are quite severe. The Relator can lose the right to collect compensation if they choose to break the seal. The Relator and their attorney could also be subject to court sanctions for violating the seal. The government is required to respect the seal as well. However, these requirements are lifted once the court lifts the seal, and puts the complaint on the public docket.
The seal of a False Claims Act case is initially set for 60 days. However, the seal can be extended for “good cause” shown by the government. In practice, the government can and usually does, request to extend the seal for months at a time. Often a case will stay under seal for a few years. That being said, the court is responsible for determining whether the seal should be lifted and can choose to lift the seal over the government’s objection.
Length of Time it Takes for the Government to Conduct a Case
The longevity of a case depends mostly on length of the government’s investigation. If the government can demonstrate to the judge that they require more time to continue their investigation, the judge, in most instances, would likely provide them with more time to investigate the case under seal. Unfortunately, such investigations are not entirely under the control of any one party. The government may issue an investigative demand and the defendant may need a considerable amount of time to comply with the demand.
The government may need more time depending on their ability to obtain all the available evidence and analyze it. In some cases, evidence may be residing in a foreign county. False Claims Act have been filed with respect to USAID, the Department of Defense, and the Iraq and Afghanistan war efforts. Under such circumstances, the evidence may be more difficult to obtain. The government may point to such circumstance and ask the court to extend the seal. It may ask to extend the seal in order to conduct negotiations with the defendant and, attempt to settle the matter prior to unsealing it.
There is no deadline with respect to how long the government may take to conduct an investigation, except if the judge in the case decides to impose such a deadline. As a result, many judges have become more attuned to the idea that the government should not have an endless period of time to pursue a case. In recent years, the government itself has been more aggressive in attempting to move investigations along and reach a conclusion in a more timely manner.
Contact an Attorney to Discuss False Claims Act Cases Under Seal
If you are unsure or unaware about the requirements pertaining to a case under seal, it is recommended to get in touch with an attorney for more information. A lawyer in Washington, DC could review with you the consequences of failing to adhere to the rules set by a case under seal. For more information on what to know about False Claims Act cases under seal, schedule a consultation today.