Written by: Ryan J. Cuthbertson
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on January 13, 2015 in a government contracts whistleblower case that could have a far-reaching impact on more than just federal contractors.
The case involves the tolling of claims for any “offense” involving fraud against the federal government until 5 years after the formal end to a conflict under the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act (WSLA). The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals construed the WSLA broadly to find that an “offense” under the WLSA included civil claims under the FCA and that the WSLA could be triggered without a formal declaration of war. The Fourth Circuit did not restrict its decision to war-related contracts or procurement activities and the Department of Justice, likewise, argued for a very broad interpretation of the WSLA.
In a recent Law360 article (which extensively quoted Larry Freedman of Mintz Levin’s Health Law Practice), experts including Freedman discuss how broad and significant the impact of a ruling affirming the Fourth Circuit would be. In the article, Freedman says that the outcome will affect anyone who accepts federal funding, including health care providers, financial services companies, and grant programs. He also notes that the Fourth Circuit’s interpretation could allow for indefinite tolling of FCA actions.