Prather v. Sprint Communications, Inc.

Resolution of the underlying lawsuit (here by a settlement) does not automatically moot an appeal by a person who unsuccessfully sought to intervene in the action, so long as effective relief may still potentially be awarded the would-be intervenor.

Under the Federal False Claims Act, a relator is entitled to the same rights in a separate action brought by the United States on the same claim as he would have been entitled to if the United States had, instead, intervened in the relator’s earlier action.  However, if the relator was jurisdictionally barred from recovery in his qui tam action because he was not the original source of public information on which the suit was based, he cannot recover in the United States’ separate suit either.  This follows from the fact that intervention by the United States in the relator’s action would not have cured the jurisdictional bar raised by his not being the original source.  Resolution of the underlying lawsuit (here by a settlement) does not automatically moot an appeal by a person who unsuccessfully sought to intervene in the action, just so long as effective relief may still potentially be awarded the would-be intervener.  Here, Prather had sought to intervene in a False Claims Act case brought by the United States so that he could recover a portion of the settlement as the person whose disclosure allegedly triggered the suit.  Since relief could still be awarded Prather against the United States for a portion of the settlement funds it had received, Prather’s appeal was not moot.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Berzon, J.); April 28, 2017; 2017 WL 1526316

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