(a) Responsibilities of the Attorney General. - The Attorney General diligently shall investigate a violation under G.S. 1-607. If the Attorney General finds that a person has violated or is violating G.S. 1-607, the Attorney General may bring a civil action under this section against that person.
(b) Actions by Private Persons. - A person may bring a civil action for a violation of G.S. 1-607 for the person and for the State, as follows:
(1) The action shall be brought in the name of the State, and the person bringing the action shall be referred to as the qui tam plaintiff. Once filed, the action may be dismissed voluntarily by the person bringing the action only if the court and Attorney General have given written consent to the dismissal.
(2) A copy of the complaint and written disclosure of substantially all material evidence and information the person possesses shall be served on the Attorney General pursuant to applicable rules of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. The complaint shall be filed in camera, shall remain under seal for at least 120 days, and shall not be served on the defendant until the court so orders. The State may elect to intervene and proceed with the action within 120 days after it receives both the complaint and the material evidence and information.
(3) The State may, for good cause shown, move the court for extensions of the time during which the complaint remains under seal under subdivision (2) of this subsection. Any such motions may be supported by affidavits or other submissions in camera. The defendant shall not be required to respond to any complaint filed under this section until 30 days after the complaint is unsealed and served upon the defendant pursuant to the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.
(4) Before the expiration of the 120-day period or any extensions obtained under subdivision (3) of this subsection, the State shall:
a. Proceed with the action, in which case the action shall be conducted by the State; or
b. Notify the court that it declines to take over the action, in which case the person bringing the action shall have the right to conduct the action.
(5) When a person brings an action under this subsection, the federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729 et seq., or any similar provision of law in any other state, no person other than the State may intervene or bring a related action based on the facts underlying the pending action; provided, however, that nothing in this subdivision prohibits a person from amending a pending action in another jurisdiction to allege a claim under this subsection.
(c) The Attorney General may retain a portion of the damages recovered for a State agency out of the proceeds of the action or settlement under this Article as reimbursement for costs incurred by the Attorney General in investigating and bringing a civil action under this Article, including reasonable attorneys' fees and investigative costs. Retained funds shall be used by the Attorney General to carry out the provisions of this Article. (2009-554, s. 1; 2010-96, s. 25(a).)
Last modified: March 23, 2014