Willamette Law Online

United States Supreme Court Certiorari Granted


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Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Carter

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: July 1, 2014
Case #: 12-1497
Court Below: 710 F.3d 171 (4th Cir. 2013)
Full Text Opinion: http://www2.bloomberglaw.com/public/desktop/document/United_States_ex_rel_Carter_v_Halliburton_Co_710_F3d_171_4th_Cir_

Civil Procedure: Whether 18 U.S.C. § 3287 applies to claims brought by private relators, and also leads to indefinite tolling; and whether the “first-to-file” bar in the False Claims Act is essentially a “one-case-at-a-time” rule.

Petitioner provided services to the United States in Iraq though a government contract. Respondent worked for Petitioner in Iraq for four months. Respondent claims Petitioner was not following the government contract, but was misrepresenting facts and providing fraudulent billing. Respondent filed a lawsuit under the False Claims Act (“FCA”). The district court dismissed, concluding it lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Respondent amended the complaint, and the parties were informed of a similar FCA case, Thorpe. The district court dismissed the case because Thorpe was a “related” action. Respondent refilled the case after Thorpe was dismissed. The district court dismissed, this time with prejudice, because the case was filed outside of the statute of limitations. The court reasoned that the case could not be tolled by the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act (“WSLA”) because the WSLA does not apply to private relators.  

Respondent appealed to the United States Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit. The Court of Appeals held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction. In addition, the WSLA applies to private relators.

Petitioner sought certiorari on whether 18 U.S.C. § 3287 applies to claims brought by private realtors, and also leads to indefinite tolling; and whether the “first-to-file” bar in the False Claims Act is essentially a “one-case-at-a-time” rule. Petitioner alleges the Court of Appeals is narrowly construing the WSLA contrary to the Court’s precedent by “effectively repealing the statute of limitations.” In addition, the decision conflicts with several other circuits by changing the “first-to-file” bar into a “one-case-at-a-time” rule.