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The Once and Future King: SCOTUS Maintains the Government May Intervene in Previously Declined FCA Matters to Seek Dismissal

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Last Friday, June 16, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) ruled that the federal government may seek to dismiss a qui tam False Claims Act (“FCA”) suit over the relator’s objection, even where it previously declined to intervene in the case and the relator invested in moving the case forward. The 8-1 decision by the high Court firmly established the broad authority for the government to intervene in such circumstances under a Rule 41(a) “reasonableness” standard, explaining that the key reason for this is that “the government’s interest in [an FCA] suit … is the predominant one” based on the “FCA’s government-centered purposes.” United States Ex Rel. Polansky v. Executive Health Resources, Inc., Slip. Op. No. 21–1052, at 12, 599 U.S. ____ (2023).

When an FCA suit is filed, the government has 60 days (which is typically extended) under the FCA statute to decide whether to decline or intervene in the case. See 31 U.S.C. § 3730. If declined, the relator may proceed with the litigation without the government’s support. The statute also allows the government to intervene “at a later date upon a showing of good cause.” § 3730(c)(3). As of 2022, publicly available statistics show that the government has elected to intervene only in about 40 percent of all qui tam FCA matters subject to judgment or settlement.

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