State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. United States ex rel. Rigsby

If a private relator fails to respect the 60-day statutory seal on release of information while the Attorney General reviews a False Claims Act complaint, the district court, in its discretion, may dismiss the complaint or impose other sanctions; dismissal is not mandatory.  Under 31 USC 3730(b)(2), a private relator is supposed to file a False Claims Act complaint under seal, serve it on the Attorney General, and keep it confidential for 60 days after filing to give the Attorney General time to decide whether to intervene and take over the action.  Defendant alleged that the relator’s attorney here disclosed the contents of the complaint to news media and others while the stay was in effect.  This decision holds that violation of the statutory seal does not require the district court to dismiss the complaint.  Instead, dismissal is discretionary with the district court, which may impose other appropriate sanctions instead.

United States Supreme Court (Kennedy, J.); December 6, 2016; 2016 WL 7078622

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