31 U.S.C. § 3730 : US Code - Section 3730: Civil actions for false claims

Search 31 U.S.C. § 3730 : US Code - Section 3730: Civil actions for false claims

      (a) Responsibilities of the Attorney General. - The Attorney
    General diligently shall investigate a violation under section
    3729. If the Attorney General finds that a person has violated or
    is violating section 3729, the Attorney General may bring a civil
    action under this section against the person.
      (b) Actions by Private Persons. - (1) A person may bring a civil
    action for a violation of section 3729 for the person and for the
    United States Government. The action shall be brought in the name
    of the Government. The action may be dismissed only if the court
    and the Attorney General give written consent to the dismissal and
    their reasons for consenting.
      (2) A copy of the complaint and written disclosure of
    substantially all material evidence and information the person
    possesses shall be served on the Government pursuant to Rule
    4(d)(4) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The complaint
    shall be filed in camera, shall remain under seal for at least 60
    days, and shall not be served on the defendant until the court so
    orders. The Government may elect to intervene and proceed with the
    action within 60 days after it receives both the complaint and the
    material evidence and information.
      (3) The Government may, for good cause shown, move the court for
    extensions of the time during which the complaint remains under
    seal under paragraph (2). Any such motions may be supported by
    affidavits or other submissions in camera. The defendant shall not
    be required to respond to any complaint filed under this section
    until 20 days after the complaint is unsealed and served upon the
    defendant pursuant to Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil
    Procedure.
      (4) Before the expiration of the 60-day period or any extensions
    obtained under paragraph (3), the Government shall - 
        (A) proceed with the action, in which case the action shall be
      conducted by the Government; or
        (B) notify the court that it declines to take over the action,
      in which case the person bringing the action shall have the right
      to conduct the action.

      (5) When a person brings an action under this subsection, no
    person other than the Government may intervene or bring a related
    action based on the facts underlying the pending action.
      (c) Rights of the Parties to Qui Tam Actions. - (1) If the
    Government proceeds with the action, it shall have the primary
    responsibility for prosecuting the action, and shall not be bound
    by an act of the person bringing the action. Such person shall have
    the right to continue as a party to the action, subject to the
    limitations set forth in paragraph (2).
      (2)(A) The Government may dismiss the action notwithstanding the
    objections of the person initiating the action if the person has
    been notified by the Government of the filing of the motion and the
    court has provided the person with an opportunity for a hearing on
    the motion.
      (B) The Government may settle the action with the defendant
    notwithstanding the objections of the person initiating the action
    if the court determines, after a hearing, that the proposed
    settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable under all the
    circumstances. Upon a showing of good cause, such hearing may be
    held in camera.
      (C) Upon a showing by the Government that unrestricted
    participation during the course of the litigation by the person
    initiating the action would interfere with or unduly delay the
    Government's prosecution of the case, or would be repetitious,
    irrelevant, or for purposes of harassment, the court may, in its
    discretion, impose limitations on the person's participation, such
    as - 
        (i) limiting the number of witnesses the person may call;
        (ii) limiting the length of the testimony of such witnesses;
        (iii) limiting the person's cross-examination of witnesses; or
        (iv) otherwise limiting the participation by the person in the
      litigation.

      (D) Upon a showing by the defendant that unrestricted
    participation during the course of the litigation by the person
    initiating the action would be for purposes of harassment or would
    cause the defendant undue burden or unnecessary expense, the court
    may limit the participation by the person in the litigation.
      (3) If the Government elects not to proceed with the action, the
    person who initiated the action shall have the right to conduct the
    action. If the Government so requests, it shall be served with
    copies of all pleadings filed in the action and shall be supplied
    with copies of all deposition transcripts (at the Government's
    expense). When a person proceeds with the action, the court,
    without limiting the status and rights of the person initiating the
    action, may nevertheless permit the Government to intervene at a
    later date upon a showing of good cause.
      (4) Whether or not the Government proceeds with the action, upon
    a showing by the Government that certain actions of discovery by
    the person initiating the action would interfere with the
    Government's investigation or prosecution of a criminal or civil
    matter arising out of the same facts, the court may stay such
    discovery for a period of not more than 60 days. Such a showing
    shall be conducted in camera. The court may extend the 60-day
    period upon a further showing in camera that the Government has
    pursued the criminal or civil investigation or proceedings with
    reasonable diligence and any proposed discovery in the civil action
    will interfere with the ongoing criminal or civil investigation or
    proceedings.
      (5) Notwithstanding subsection (b), the Government may elect to
    pursue its claim through any alternate remedy available to the
    Government, including any administrative proceeding to determine a
    civil money penalty. If any such alternate remedy is pursued in
    another proceeding, the person initiating the action shall have the
    same rights in such proceeding as such person would have had if the
    action had continued under this section. Any finding of fact or
    conclusion of law made in such other proceeding that has become
    final shall be conclusive on all parties to an action under this
    section. For purposes of the preceding sentence, a finding or
    conclusion is final if it has been finally determined on appeal to
    the appropriate court of the United States, if all time for filing
    such an appeal with respect to the finding or conclusion has
    expired, or if the finding or conclusion is not subject to judicial
    review.
      (d) Award to Qui Tam Plaintiff. - (1) If the Government proceeds
    with an action brought by a person under subsection (b), such
    person shall, subject to the second sentence of this paragraph,
    receive at least 15 percent but not more than 25 percent of the
    proceeds of the action or settlement of the claim, depending upon
    the extent to which the person substantially contributed to the
    prosecution of the action. Where the action is one which the court
    finds to be based primarily on disclosures of specific information
    (other than information provided by the person bringing the action)
    relating to allegations or transactions in a criminal, civil, or
    administrative hearing, in a congressional, administrative, or
    Government (!1) Accounting Office report, hearing, audit, or
    investigation, or from the news media, the court may award such
    sums as it considers appropriate, but in no case more than 10
    percent of the proceeds, taking into account the significance of
    the information and the role of the person bringing the action in
    advancing the case to litigation. Any payment to a person under the
    first or second sentence of this paragraph shall be made from the
    proceeds. Any such person shall also receive an amount for
    reasonable expenses which the court finds to have been necessarily
    incurred, plus reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. All such
    expenses, fees, and costs shall be awarded against the defendant.

      (2) If the Government does not proceed with an action under this
    section, the person bringing the action or settling the claim shall
    receive an amount which the court decides is reasonable for
    collecting the civil penalty and damages. The amount shall be not
    less than 25 percent and not more than 30 percent of the proceeds
    of the action or settlement and shall be paid out of such proceeds.
    Such person shall also receive an amount for reasonable expenses
    which the court finds to have been necessarily incurred, plus
    reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. All such expenses, fees, and
    costs shall be awarded against the defendant.
      (3) Whether or not the Government proceeds with the action, if
    the court finds that the action was brought by a person who planned
    and initiated the violation of section 3729 upon which the action
    was brought, then the court may, to the extent the court considers
    appropriate, reduce the share of the proceeds of the action which
    the person would otherwise receive under paragraph (1) or (2) of
    this subsection, taking into account the role of that person in
    advancing the case to litigation and any relevant circumstances
    pertaining to the violation. If the person bringing the action is
    convicted of criminal conduct arising from his or her role in the
    violation of section 3729, that person shall be dismissed from the
    civil action and shall not receive any share of the proceeds of the
    action. Such dismissal shall not prejudice the right of the United
    States to continue the action, represented by the Department of
    Justice.
      (4) If the Government does not proceed with the action and the
    person bringing the action conducts the action, the court may award
    to the defendant its reasonable attorneys' fees and expenses if the
    defendant prevails in the action and the court finds that the claim
    of the person bringing the action was clearly frivolous, clearly
    vexatious, or brought primarily for purposes of harassment.
      (e) Certain Actions Barred. - (1) No court shall have
    jurisdiction over an action brought by a former or present member
    of the armed forces under subsection (b) of this section against a
    member of the armed forces arising out of such person's service in
    the armed forces.
      (2)(A) No court shall have jurisdiction over an action brought
    under subsection (b) against a Member of Congress, a member of the
    judiciary, or a senior executive branch official if the action is
    based on evidence or information known to the Government when the
    action was brought.
      (B) For purposes of this paragraph, "senior executive branch
    official" means any officer or employee listed in paragraphs (1)
    through (8) of section 101(f) of the Ethics in Government Act of
    1978 (5 U.S.C. App.).
      (3) In no event may a person bring an action under subsection (b)
    which is based upon allegations or transactions which are the
    subject of a civil suit or an administrative civil money penalty
    proceeding in which the Government is already a party.
      (4)(A) The court shall dismiss an action or claim under this
    section, unless opposed by the Government, if substantially the
    same allegations or transactions as alleged in the action or claim
    were publicly disclosed - 
        (i) in a Federal criminal, civil, or administrative hearing in
      which the Government or its agent is a party;
        (ii) in a congressional, Government Accountability Office, or
      other Federal report, hearing, audit, or investigation; or
        (iii) from the news media,

    unless the action is brought by the Attorney General or the person
    bringing the action is an original source of the information.
      (B) For purposes of this paragraph, "original source" means an
    individual who either (i) prior to a public disclosure under
    subsection (e)(4)(a), has voluntarily disclosed to the Government
    the information on which allegations or transactions in a claim are
    based, or (2) who has knowledge that is independent of and
    materially adds to the publicly disclosed allegations or
    transactions, and who has voluntarily provided the information to
    the Government before filing an action under this section.
      (f) Government Not Liable for Certain Expenses. - The Government
    is not liable for expenses which a person incurs in bringing an
    action under this section.
      (g) Fees and Expenses to Prevailing Defendant. - In civil actions
    brought under this section by the United States, the provisions of
    section 2412(d) of title 28 shall apply.
      (h) Relief From Retaliatory Actions. - 
        (1) In general. - Any employee, contractor, or agent shall be
      entitled to all relief necessary to make that employee,
      contractor, or agent whole, if that employee, contractor, or
      agent is discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or
      in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and
      conditions of employment because of lawful acts done by the
      employee, contractor, agent or associated others in furtherance
      of an action under this section or other efforts to stop 1 or
      more violations of this subchapter.
        (2) Relief. - Relief under paragraph (1) shall include
      reinstatement with the same seniority status that employee,
      contractor, or agent would have had but for the discrimination, 2
      times the amount of back pay, interest on the back pay, and
      compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the
      discrimination, including litigation costs and reasonable
      attorneys' fees. An action under this subsection may be brought
      in the appropriate district court of the United States for the
      relief provided in this subsection.
        (3) Limitation on bringing civil action. - A civil action under
      this subsection may not be brought more than 3 years after the
      date when the retaliation occurred.