Supreme Court Agrees to Hear KBR Whistleblower Case

supreme_court_to_hear_whistleblower_caseThe U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it would hear Kellogg, Brown & Root’s appeal of a whistleblower case filed by a former employee who accused the contractor of defrauding the U.S. government over work it did in Iraq.

Benjamin Carter worked for KBR in Iraq as a water purification operator. He sued the company first in 2006 under the federal False Claims Act, which allows individuals to sue on behalf of the government and claim a portion of the proceeds if the case is successful, Reuters reports. Congress passed the False Claims Act during the Civil War to punish war profiteers.  The False Claims Act is a major tool for fighting fraud against the government and many claims involve health care and military programs.

Carter’s suit said that KBR billed the government for water purification services at two sites in early 2005, though it did not actually begin providing those services until May 2005, according to Reuters. The suit also names Halliburton Co., then KBR’s parent company, as a defendant. KBR appealed to the Supreme Court after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Carter in March 2013.

The legal fight in this case involves in part the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act, which extends the deadlines for lawsuits when the U.S. is at war, Bloomberg News reports. The companies say the appeals court’s reasoning would mean that the deadline won’t occur until years after the president or Congress formally terminates the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. KBR appealed a ruling in favor of Carter from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Oral arguments in the case will be made during the court’s next term, which begins in October, Reuters reports. A decision would come by June 2015, when the term ends. The case is KBR v. United States, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-1497.


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