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Aggressive Natural Resources Litigation Tactics: Citizens' Suits and Qui Tam Actions

L. Poe Leggette, Nancy L. Pell, Proceedings of 44th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1998)

There is nothing more interesting than a doctoral candidate in search of a dissertation topic; and there is nothing more boring than a doctoral candidate who has found it. I may prove to be the doctoral candidate who has found his topic, but this articlewhile treating several issues under the Actis going to emphasize one that I find particularly intriguing: the question of who (other than the federal government) can bring a suit under the False Claims Act. Our discussion will be informed by drawing brief comparisons with one other mode of litigation, the citizen suit.

A False Claims Act suit by anyone other than the United States itself must be brought under the qui tam provisions of the Act. Although suits against defense contractors and health [3-2] care organizations have made qui tam suits more prominent recently, most of you are probably more familiar with qui tam's first cousin, the citizen suit. So we begin with the more familiar and work our way toward the more obscure.

The basic concept behind the citizen suit is to give individual citizens a device to act as a sort of private attorney general by seeking enforcement of federal statutes. The goal is to allow interested persons to supplement the efforts of federal prosecutors and agencies in assuring that the given statute is rigorously enforced. Some statutes also allow citizens to act as a sort of pr