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Jury's Out: A Seventh Amendment Challenge to the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act

NCJ Number
George Mason University Law Review Volume: 12 Issue: 2 & 3 Dated: (Winter & Spring 1990) Pages: 207-226
P E Pompeo
Date Published
20 pages
Congress should amend the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act (PFCRA) to permit defendants to retain their constitutional right to a jury trial under the seventh amendment while giving the government a means of recovering losses from small fraud cases related to government contracts.
PFCRA allows a civil penalty of $5,000 per false claim for cases involving claims of no more than $150,000. It provides for an administrative proceeding at which the presiding officer makes findings of fact for which there is no de novo review. In addition, a jury trial is not permitted. The law's drafters relied on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Atlas Roofing Co. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission for the proposition that the seventh amendment does not apply to administrative tribunals to which Congress could assign the enforcement of certain laws. However, shortly after PFCRA's enactment, the Court ruled in Tull v. United States that a statutory action providing for the imposition of a civil penalty requires a trial by jury under the seventh amendment. Because of this decision, PFCRA violates the seventh amendment and needs revision. 195 footnotes