Federal Court in Kentucky Reaffirms Longstanding Principle that FCA Whistleblowers Cannot Proceed Pro Se

Posted by Michael D. Mann

Reaffirming the well established principle that relators may not bring a qui tam action under the False Claims Act pro se, on February 12, 2013, the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky (Heyburn, J.), barred and dismissed a plaintiff’s frivolous allegations of “an illegal scheme to defraud the government,” concluding that:

Because “a qui tam relator . . . sues on behalf of the government and not himself [, h]e therefore must comply with the general rule prohibiting nonlawyers from representing other litigants.” United States ex rel. Szymczak v. Covenant Healthcare Sys., Inc., 207 F. App’x 731, 732 (7th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). “Although the FCA does not expressly address whether a private individual can bring a qui tam suit pro se, the courts that have considered the issue have uniformly held that pro se relators may not prosecute qui tam actions.” Brantley v. Title First Titling Agency, No. 1:12–cv–608, 2012 WL 6725592, at *3 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 27, 2012) (listing cases); see also Carter v. Washtenaw Cnty., No. 09–14994, 2010 WL 3222042, at * 1 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 13, 2010) (“A litigant cannot, however, bring a qui tam action under the False Claims Act pro se.”); Zernik v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 630 F.Supp.2d 24, 27 (D.D.C. 2009) (“[P]ro se plaintiffs are not qualified to represent the interests of the United States in such an action.”).

Hopson v. Weinburg Attorney’s at Law, 3:12-CV-802 (JGH) (W.D. Ky. Feb. 12, 2013).