Earlier this week we reported on a case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in which the court unsealed a relator's complaint after the relator voluntarily dismissed it, holding that "the rationale behind sealing FCA cases is to allow the United States ample time to investigate the allegations, and the FCA does not contain any language that suggests the purpose of sealing a case is to protect the relator’s identity.” See United States ex rel. Durham Prospect Waterproofing, Inc., Civil Action No. 10-1946, 2011 WL 4793236 (D.D.C. Oct. 4, 2011). Click here for our post on the Durham case. A few days ago, the District of Kansas similarly denied a relator's request to seal the complaint, holding that the "public's strong interest in access to court documents outweighed the relator's interest in keeping her identity secret. See United States ex rel. Danner v. Quality Health Care Inc., No. 11-4026, 2011 WL 4971453 (D. Kan. Oct. 18, 2011).
The relator, Mary Danner, a former Clinical Director at Quality Health Care Inc., alleged that her former employer submitted claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary services, submitted upcoded claims, and submitted claims for services not actually provided. The Government investigated the claims and chose not to intervene. The court then unsealed the complaint to allow the relator to serve the defendants and litigate the action. Instead, the relator moved to voluntarily dismiss the action and restore the seal. The relator claimed that public availability of the complaint "(1) will impair her ability to continue investigating and developing facts to support the alleged claims, and (2) may impair her ability to obtain employment and negatively impact her health."
The court rejected the relator's arguments and denied the motion to seal the complaint. The court reasoned: (1) "Relator's concern about continuing her private investigation misconstrues the purpose of the sealing provisions in the FCA. The FCA requires the complaint to be filed under seal to protect the government's investigation—not relator's private investigation." (2) "Relator also argues that public accessibility may impair her ability to obtain employment and negatively impact her health…But relator knew, or should have known, when she filed her qui tam complaint that most likely her identity would eventually be revealed. There is nothing in the FCA that requires permanently sealing the complaint."