New Jersey’s Highest Court Limits Attorney General’s Subpoena Power in Qui Tam Suits

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled 3-2 that the state Attorney General’s Office may not issue an administrative subpoena in a qui tam case after the deadline for government participation in the case has expired, according to a recent article in the New Jersey Law Journal.

The case involved Medco Health Solutions, Inc., a company that manages health benefits plans for public-sector employees. The company and two of its senior executives were accused of defrauding four state governments and the federal government of discounts on the sale of certain medications by allowing Medicare Part D to be billed for the medications at higher prices. Medco is accused of keeping the difference between the discounts and the billed prices for itself, instead of passing the discounted prices on to Medicare. Medco is fighting the allegations.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office had issued subpoenas in the case after the statutory deadline for government participation in a qui tam suit had passed, and an Essex County court had upheld those subpoenas despite the deadline. The Appellate Division, however, overturned that decision.

The state Supreme Court agreed with the Appellate Division. Writing for the majority, Justice Anne Patterson noted that New Jersey’s State Claims Act gives the Attorney General 60 days to intervene in the case, with the option to take one 60-day extension. While a court may grant additional extensions for “good cause,” the New Jersey Supreme Court did not find good cause existed in the Medco case.

Two justices dissented from the majority decision, however, saying that they found it “crystal clear” that the Attorney General could intervene in the case at any time.

Qui tam cases follow a particular set of rules, which can be complicated by the presence or absence of interested government parties in the case. To ensure that the information you have helps lead to justice, work with an experienced New Jersey qui tam lawyer.

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