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Chang v. Children's Advocacy Center of Delaware

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

September 12, 2019

WEIH STEVE CHANG, United States of America and State of Delaware, Ex Rel.
v.
CHILDREN'S ADVOCACY CENTER OF DELAWARE Weih Steve Chang, Appellant

          Argued: July 2, 2019

          On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Delaware D.C. No. 1-15-cv-00442 District Judge: Hon. Gregory M. Sleet.

          Michael J. Confusione Hegge & Confusione, LLC Mullica Hill, N.J. Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellant Weih Chang

          David C. Weiss Dylan J. Steinberg, Jesse S. Wenger United States Department of Justice Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellee United States of America

          Edward K. Black Delaware Department of Justice Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellee State of Delaware

          Kimberly A. Boyer-Cohen Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin Counsel for Defendant-Appellee Children's Advocacy Center of Delaware

          Before: McKEE, PORTER, and RENDELL, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          PORTER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Weih Chang appeals the District Court's orders dismissing his complaint under the False Claims Act ("FCA") and its Delaware counterpart. He argues that the District Court was obliged under those statutes to hold an in-person hearing before dismissing his claims. We disagree, so we will affirm.

         I

         A

         The FCA prohibits the submission of false claims for payment to the United States. See 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1); United States ex rel. Petratos v. Genentech Inc., 855 F.3d 481, 486 (3d Cir. 2017). To incentivize its own enforcement, the FCA allows private individuals to sue for alleged violations-called qui tam suits-and offers them a percentage of an eventual recovery. See 31 U.S.C. § 3730(d).

         In a typical qui tam action, a private party (called a "relator") sues a defendant on behalf of the government for alleged FCA violations. The United States then has 60 days (plus any granted extensions) to review the claim and decide whether it will "elect to intervene and proceed with the action." § 3730(b)(2). If the government intervenes, the relator has the right to continue as a party, but the government assumes the "primary responsibility for prosecuting the action." § 3730(c)(1). If the government chooses not to intervene, the relator may still "conduct the action." § 3730(c)(3).

         Yet even under the latter scenario, the government may still "dismiss the action notwithstanding the objections of the person initiating the action if the person has been notified by the Government of the filing of the motion and the court has provided the person ...


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