Getting Schooled: The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit Holds that the Federal Government Need Not Show "Good Cause" Before Settling and Dismissing a Pending Qui Tam Action Against College
In United States v. Everglades College, Inc., a case of first impression in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the court interpreted the good cause intervention requirement of § 3730(c)(3) of Title 31 of the United States Code (U.S.C.). The court was asked to determine whether the United States needed to show "good cause" for intervening in a qui tam action brought by two private individuals under the False Claims Act (FCA). The government, after originally declining to proceed with the FCA action itself, eventually decided to "intervene" while the action was pending on the appellate docket simply for the purposes of settling with the defendant college and having the case dismissed. Relying on 31 U.S.C. § 3730(c)(3)'s plain language and similar decisions from sibling circuits, the Eleventh Circuit held that the United States did not need to show "good cause" for intervening when its only purposes were to settle with the defendant college and terminate the litigation. The court also approved the proposed settlement terms. In doing so, the court recognized the differing statutory requirements and standards guiding government actions in qui tam cases depending on whether the United States intervenes to proceed with the action itself, dismiss the action overall, or settle with the defendant. Noting these differences, the Eleventh Circuit declined to import the good cause intervention requirement from § 3730(c)(3) to the other sections of the statute. The Eleventh Circuit's decision increases the government's discretion in settling qui tam cases and, as a result, decreases incentives for individuals to bring qui tam cases alleging fraudulent behavior.
Laura Leigh Fox, Casenote, Getting Schooled: The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit Holds that the Federal Government Need Not Show "Good Cause" Before Settling and Dismissing a Pending Qui Tam Action Against College, 69 Mercer L. Rev. 1285 (2018).