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U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies DOJ’s Authority to Dismiss Whistleblowers’ False Claims Act Suits, Questions Constitutionality of Qui Tam Provisions

Edwin O. Childs, Michael J. Podberesky, Jonathan Ellis, Gretchen Heinze Townshend, Todd R. Steggerda, Charles Wm. McIntyre and Jason M. Vespoli, for The FCA Insider – McGuireWoods:

In United States ex rel. Polansky v. Executive Health Resources, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court recently resolved a circuit split by holding that in a False Claims Act (“FCA”) action (1) the Government may seek dismissal of a qui tam case in which it initially declined to intervene over the relator’s objection as long as the Government later intervened in the litigation, and (2) that in considering such a dismissal motion, district courts should apply the rule generally governing voluntary dismissal of suits: Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a).  Under Rule 41(a), the Court explained that the Government has broad latitude to seek dismissal stating that “motions will satisfy Rule 41 in all but the most exceptional cases.”  The decision is an important one for the Government and FCA defendants.  But perhaps as important as the Court’s central holding in the Polansky case (and certainly more surprising), was the view expressed by Justice Thomas in dissent (and echoed by Justice Kavanaugh in a concurring opinion joined by Justice Barrett) that the FCA’s qui tam provision permitting a private citizen to litigate a case on behalf of the United States may be unconstitutional.