Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Rules on Federal False Claims Act Issue
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the plaintiff in a False Claims Act retaliation matter.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the plaintiff in a False Claims Act retaliation matter. Riddle v. Dyncorp Int’l, Inc., et al, No. 11-10155 (5th Cir. Jan. 5, 2012), available at http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/11/11-10155-CV0.wpd.pdf.
The plaintiff brought a retaliation suit pursuant to the federal False Claims Act 178 days after his employment terminated. The district court, borrowing the ninety-day statute of limitations from the Texas Whistleblower Act, held that the complaint was untimely filed and dismissed the lawsuit. The plaintiff appealed this decision, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court's judgment.
Because the federal False Claims Act contained no statute of limitations, to determine if the complaint was timely filed, the district court had to apply the most closely analogous state statute of limitations. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the district court’s selection of the Texas Whistleblower Act, however, and found the analogy between the False Claims Act and the Texas Whistleblower Act lacking. First, the state statute creates a cause of action available only to public employees. Second, it contemplates administrative remedies intervening to stop the running of the short limitations period.
Instead, the Court held that the most analogous Texas statute of limitations is the two-year period applied in personal injury cases. Because the plaintiff filed the lawsuit within two years after his termination, his claim was timely filed.