Hughes Aircraft Co. v. United States ex rel. Schumer, 520 U.S. 939 (1997)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit

No. 95-1340. Argued February 25, 1997—Decided June 16, 1997

In 1989, respondent Schumer filed an action against petitioner Hughes

Aircraft Company under the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act (FCA), which permits, in certain circumstances, suits by private parties on behalf of the United States against anyone submitting a false claim to the Government. Hughes' allegedly false claims were submitted between 1982 and 1984. Prior to 1986, qui tam suits were barred if the information on which they were based was already in the Government's possession. A 1986 amendment, however, permits qui tam suits based on information in the Government's possession, except where the suit is based on publicly disclosed information and was not brought by an original source of the information. Hughes moved to dismiss, contending, inter alia, that the 1986 amendment was not retroactive, and that the qui tam provision in effect when Hughes engaged in its allegedly wrongful conduct precluded the suit because it was based on information that Hughes had already disclosed to the Government. The District Court denied the motion, but ultimately granted Hughes summary judgment on the merits. Schumer appealed that judgment, and Hughes cross-appealed from the denial of the motion to dismiss. The Ninth Circuit rejected the cross-appeal, holding that the 1986 amendment should be applied retroactively to suits based on pre-1986 conduct because the amendment involved only the courts' subject-matter jurisdiction to hear qui tam claims and did not affect qui tam defendants' substantive liability. Finding, further, that the action was not barred under the 1986 amendment, the court reversed in part and remanded for further consideration on the merits.

Held: Because the 1986 amendment does not apply retroactively to qui tam suits regarding allegedly false claims submitted prior to its enactment, this action should have been dismissed, as required by the pre-1986 version of the FCA. Pp. 945-952. (a) This Court applies the time-honored presumption against retroactive legislation unless Congress has clearly manifested its intent to the contrary. Landgraf v. USI Film Products, 511 U. S. 244, 268. Nothing in the 1986 amendment evidences a clear intent by Congress that it be applied retroactively. Thus, under Landgraf's analysis, if the


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