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Southeastern Whistleblowers Have More Opportunities to File Successful Qui Tam Cases Based on Recent Federal Court Decision

April 12, 2018

In the Southeastern United States (the 11th Circuit federal court jurisdiction), some whistleblowers can now go back as far as 10 years to collect damages, not just 6 years as is the case in some other parts of the country. According to the language of the False Claims Act, qui tam cases can be filed within the later of (A) 6 years from the date on which the fraud on the USA is committed, or (B) 3 years from the date when the government learned of or should have learned of the fraud, but in no case more than 10 years after the date on which the fraud occurred. See False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3731(b)(1) – (b)(2). Other federal circuits (such as the 9th and 10th Circuits which include the states along the west coast, Hawaii and Alaska (9th Circuit) and the western part of the U.S. between the Midwest and the west coast (10th Circuit)) only allow whistleblowers to use the shorter 6-year limitations period so they can only collect damages that accrued within 6 years of filing their case. Yesterday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in a case named, United States ex rel. Hunt v. Cochise Consultancy, Inc., 2018 WL 1736788 (11th Cir. Apr. 11, 2018), departed from the other Circuit Court rulings and decided that whistleblowers in cases in which the government does not intervene and take over the case (in other words, “declined” qui tam cases) can use the longer 10-year period for filing and collecting damages. So if the fraud occurred 10 years ago, whistleblowers in declined cases can recover damages for that entire ten-year period (rather than just going back 6 years) if the whistleblower filed his or her qui tam within 3 years from the date on which the United States learned of or should have learned of the fraud. The Hunt case decision is a game changer for whistleblowers who file in the 11th Circuit because the longer limitations period allows them to pursue more damages from the defendant.

This article was drafted by Wilbanks & Gouinlock, LLP and is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. 



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Marlan Wilbanks, Esq.

Marlan Wilbanks

Marlan is currently acting as lead counsel in important qui tam cases that are filed in over 16 federal and state courts across the nation. He has handled whistleblower litigation matters against numerous individuals and large companies that have committed fraudulent acts against the government in federal courts and many state courts, including cases from California to Florida.

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Susan Gouinlock, Esq.

Susan Gouinlock

Susan S. Gouinlock has represented whistleblowers for more than ten years. Susan joined Wilbanks & Bridges in 2011 and became a partner in 2013. Her legal career has been successful and diverse, including a unique mixture of working for the government as a lawyer as well as years of representing individuals and businesses in highly regulated environments, including for example spending six (6) years as in-house general counsel to a major corporation.
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