Did we fight a war in Iraq?

Blawgletter’s raising the question may cause you to wonder whether we ate lead paint chips as a child. But the Fourth Circuit just treated the issue as a legitimate one. Why can’t we?

The controversy arose in a qui tam (False Claims Act) case against Halliburton and its KBR subs for contract work in the land of Mesopotamia. An ex-employee alleged that Halliburton, et al., defrauded the U.S. government by claiming to have worked a Great Many Hours on purifying water when in fact it purified nary a drop during the Time in Question. The district court held the lawsuit untimely under the six-year limitations period in the FCA.

But the relator urged that the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act had suspended limitations while wartime persisted. The district court said ix-nay on the uspension-say, ruling that the WSLA did not apply to claims by private relators and instead aided only the government in cases it brings.

The Fourth Circuit reversed on that ground. The panel held that the WSLA does benefit private relators AND that the relator in the case before it had filed “[w]hen the United States [wa]s at war” in Iraq. The lack of a formal declaration didn’t matter, although Halliburton, et al., begged to differ on that point. United States ex rel. Carter v. Halliburton Co., No. 12-1011 (4th Cir. Mar. 18, 2013) (http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/121011.P.pdf).

One suspects the outcome might have differed if the “war” in question was the “War on Terror”.

[Note: Blawgletter’s firm has represented KBR.]