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States’ Statutes Of Limitations Apply To Federal FCA Retaliation Claims


Resolving a split among circuits regarding the proper statute of limitations to apply in "retaliation" claims brought by aggrieved whistleblowers against their employers under the federal civil False Claims Act, the Supreme Court in Graham County Soil & Water Conserv. Dist. v. U.S. ex rel. Wilson (June 20, 2005) held that, instead of the familiar six-year limitations period for substantive FCA allegations, the most analogous statute of limitations under state law (typically, state employment or other tort law) applies. The majority reasoned that, otherwise, the limitations period would be left without a starting point and would be inconsistent with the general rule that Congress drafts statutes of limitations to begin when the plaintiff has a “complete and present cause of action.”

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