Citizens filing whistleblower lawsuits aren’t entitled to the same 60-day appeals window allowed the government in false claims “qui tam” cases, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided June 8, the Courthouse News Service reported.
Unless the government intervenes in the case, whistleblowers who file lawsuits on behalf of the government under the False Claims Act must file appeals within 30 days of a district court decision.
Under the act’s provisions, individuals get a share of any cash resulting from winning a qui tam action.
The Supreme Court denied Irwin Einstein’s claim that the U.S. government was automatically party to the suit because he filed it on the government’s behalf. Einstein had sued New York City, claiming that its non-resident fee system denied the federal government tax revenue.
After the federal government declined to intervene, a district judge ruled against him. Einstein appealed 54 days later, arguing that he met the 60-day cutoff because he filed on behalf of the feds, making them a party to the suit.
“We hold that when the United States has declined to intervene in a privately initiated FCA action, it is not a ‘party’ to the litigation,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote.