On November 16, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. U.S. ex rel. Hunt, agreeing to decide how the FCA’s statute of limitations applies in qui tam actions brought by a private relator in which the government declined to intervene. The Court’s decision in Hunt should bring sorely needed clarity to a question that has deeply divided the federal courts of appeals.
The Supreme Court Will Review the Eleventh Circuit’s Interpretation of 31 U.S.C. § 3731(b)(2)
The FCA’s statute of limitations provision, 31 U.S.C. § 3731(b), states that a civil action may not be brought under the FCA:
- more than 6 years after the date on which the violation of section 3729 is committed, or
- more than 3 years after the date when facts material to the right of action are known or should have been known by the official of the United States charged with responsibility to act in the circumstances, but in no event more than 10 years after the date on which the violation is committed,
whichever occurs last.
The specific question presented in Hunt is whether § 3731(b)(2), which operates as a tolling provision to the six-year limitations period of § 3731(b)(1), applies to FCA actions brought by a relator in which the government declined to intervene, and if so, whether the government’s knowledge or the relator’s knowledge is the relevant trigger for the limitations period.