A federal circuit court decision issued last week recognizes important limitations on a relator’s ability to bring multiple lawsuits against the same contractor or alleging related fraud.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that allowing multiple suits by the same relator would violate the intent behind the “first-to-file” rule:  preventing duplicative claims.

The relator, telecommunications consultant Stephen M. Shea, brought an initial lawsuit in 2007 claiming that Verizon had overbilled the GSA on two government contracts by including federal, state and local taxes in its bills.  After the federal government intervened in the suit, Verizon paid $93.5 million to settle these claims.  Shea’s share of the recovery was $19 million.