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U.S. Looks Toward Gatekeeper’s Role on Whistleblower Claims

Source: WSJ

The Jus­tice De­part­ment urged its lawyers to weed out mer­it less cases from the hundreds of suits brought on its be­half under an anti-fraud law called the False Claims Act.

Jus­tice De­part­ment at­tor­neys should con­sider us­ing a pro­vision in the False Claims Act that lets the de­part­ment ask a judge to dis­miss claims, even if the whistle­blower who brought the case wants to go ahead, ac­cording to an in­ter­nal memo dated Jan. 10 from Michael D. Granston, di­rec­tor of the com­mer­cial lit­i­ga­tion branch of the Civil Di­vi­sion.

“This is good both for the gov­ern­ment and it’s good for pri­vate in­dus­try,” said Mitch Et­tinger, a white-col­lar de­fense lawyer at Skad­den, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

Un­der the law, pri­vate in­di­vid­uals who think they found fraud against the gov­ern­ment can sue on the U.S.’ be­half, shar­ing in what­ever money is col­lected. The Jus­tice De­part­ment in­ves­ti­gates and de­cides whether to in­ter­vene in the case, tak­ing over from the whistle­blower, known as a re­la­tor. Even if the de­part­ment de­cides not to in­ter­vene, the re­la­tor gen­er­ally can pur­sue the case.

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