First to File Requirement

Handling Whistleblower Cases Nationwide from Newport News, Virginia

Whistleblower First-to-File Rule May Apply even if No Other Suit Pending

The United States Circuit Court for the District of Columbia recently weighed in on the Whistleblower statute’s (False Claim Act’s) first-to-file rule as it applies to a whistleblower filing a second complaint in the case of Shea v. Cellco Partnership.  The court issued a ruling on April 11, 2014 and its ruling has created some controversy.

In Shea, Stephen Shea filed a whistleblower action against Cellco Partnership (Verizon) and alleged that:

Whistleblower Must be First to File

As a general rule, for a whistleblower to recover in a False Claims Act case, he or she must be the first to file suit.  This is a statutory requirement  pursuant to 31 U.S.C. Section 3737(b)(5).  Furthermore, there are a few policy reasons typically cited that support the law.  First, the government wants to give incentives to whistleblowers to come forward quickly.  Second, the government wants to discourage “parasitic” suits where individuals come forward once they have learned about someone else filing suit.