31 USC § 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
- (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
- (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).
- (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
- (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
- (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 (FOOTNOTE 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.
(FOOTNOTE 1) So in original. Probably should be ''General''.
- (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
- (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
- (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.
- (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.
- (A) No court shall have jurisdiction over an action under this section
based upon the public disclosure of allegations or transactions in a criminal,
civil, or administrative hearing, in a congressional, administrative, or
Government (FOOTNOTE 2) Accounting Office report, hearing, audit, or
investigation, or from the news media, unless the action is brought by the
Attorney General or the person bringing the action is an original source of
(FOOTNOTE 2) So in original. Probably should be ''General''.
- (B) For purposes
of this paragraph, ''original source'' means an individual who has direct and
independent knowledge of the information on which the allegations are based
and has voluntarily provided the information to the Government before filing
an action under this section which is based on the information.
- (f) Government Not Liable for Certain Expenses. - The Government is not
liable for expenses which a person incurs in bringing an action under this
- (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) Any employee who is discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened,
harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and
conditions of employment by his or her employer because of lawful acts
done by the employee on behalf of the employee or others in furtherance
of an action under this section, including investigation for, initiation of,
testimony for, or assistance in an action filed or to be filed under this
section, shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make the employee whole.
Such relief shall include reinstatement with the same seniority status such
employee 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 employee may bring an action in the
appropriate district court of the United States for the relief provided in