The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case Tuesday that some legal experts say could lead to more healthcare fraud lawsuits and extend the statute of limitations.
“It really could have a very disruptive effect,” said Larry Freedman, an attorney with Mintz Levin.
At issue in Kellogg, Brown & Root Services v. United States ex. rel. Carter is whether a KBR employee can sue the company under the False Claims Act on allegations of fraudulently billing the government on a war contract.
A U.S. District Court ruled that the whistle-blower could not sue because the statute of limitations had expired and similar suits had already been filed. But the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia ruled the statute of limitations had not run out because the actions occurred during wartime.
The American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America filed an amicus brief saying the ruling could extend the statute of limitations for all fraud cases, including healthcare cases, and allow multiple lawsuits making the same claims. That, they say, potentially would expose healthcare organizations to more fraud lawsuits.
David Chizewer, an attorney with Goldberg Kohn, said it's unlikely the court will address whether the law applies to all fraud cases. “Even after the Supreme Court issues its decision in this case, there is still going to be ambiguity about whether the act” extends the statute of limitations in a healthcare context, he said.