United States is Not a “Party” to Privately-Initiated FCA Action Unless it Intervenes

By: Joel Androphy, Rachel Grier, and Stephanie Gutheinz

In United States ex rel. Eisenstein v. City of New York, New York, the United States Supreme Court considered the applicable time period for filing a notice of appeal in FCA actions where the United States has declined to intervene.  Generally, a notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days; however, the time limit is extended to 60 days when the United States is a party to the action.  The Supreme Court held that, even though the United States is a real party in interest in every action brought under the FCA, it is not a “party” to the action unless it exercises its statutory right to intervene. 

Therefore, when the United States declines to intervene, the 30-day period for filing a notice of appeal applies rather than the extended 60-day period.  The Court reasoned that any other interpretation would render the FCA’s intervention provisions superfluous.  Because the FCA expressly gives the United States discretion to intervene in FCA actions, courts cannot disregard the government’s decision as well as congressional intent by designating the United States a “party” even though it has declined to assume the rights and burdens associated with acquiring the primary responsibility of prosecuting the action. 

United States ex rel. Eisenstein v. City of New York, New York, 129 S. Ct. 2230 (2009).

Posted in Federal False Claims Act, Government InterventionNo Comments

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