What are the statutes of limitations for the False Claims Act?

The False Claims Act has at least three statutes of limitations. Generally, to file a matter of fraud against the government there is a six-year statute of limitation. It is difficult to file a case involving fraud against the government if all the facts known to the plaintiff occurred more than six years ago. On the other hand, the government has three years to act after the time it knew or should have known about such fraud, and cannot act after 10 years in total to intervene or formally take over a case.

How Does This Work?

As one might imagine this can get complicated. The current case involving the government’s suit against Lance Armstrong is being litigated on just this point of law. Did the government act within the statute of limitations? Should it have known sooner that Mr. Armstrong was lying about his use of drugs and filed its case sooner as a result? Should the government have known this despite Mr. Armstrong’s repeated assurance that he was not using performance enhancing drugs? We will see what the court decides, but again, the point is that waiting a long period of time can make a case more difficult to pursue, even when the government supports it.

Lastly, there is a separate statute of limitations to bring claims under the anti-retaliation provisions of the False Claims Act. For an individual who wants to sue as a result of being the subject of such retaliation, the statute of limitations is three years.

Of course, it is best to at least on any matter involving fraud against the government as soon as possible.