June 22, 2020 Top Story

Decision to Name Jane Doe as Plaintiff Backfires

Nonparty appeals are permitted only in rare circumstances

By Jared H. Lorenz

A federal appellate court has dismissed a plaintiff’s appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction because the plaintiff was not a party to the lawsuit and did not meet the “exceptional circumstances” requirement for allowing nonparty appeals. The court dismissed the appeal despite the fact that the nonparty had previously been the plaintiff in the action.

The company named Jane Doe as the only relator to avoid dismissal of the FCA employment retaliation claim

The company named Jane Doe as the only relator to avoid dismissal of the FCA employment retaliation claim

Credit: Ada Yokota | iStockphoto by Getty Images

Who Is Jane Doe?

In U.S. ex rel. Alexander Volkhoff, LLC v. Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V., a company filed a qui tam complaint in federal district court. A qui tam lawsuit is a suit brought under the False Claims Act (FCA) that rewards whistleblowers in successful cases where the government recovers funds lost to fraud. The complaint named the company as the relator and alleged violations of the FCA arising out of allegedly fraudulent marketing of medications by the defendants.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the original complaint, which the company did not oppose. Instead, the company filed an amended complaint removing itself as the relator and named Jane Doe, an anonymous natural person, as the only relator. The amended complaint failed to mention the relationship between the company and Jane Doe.

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