ucation, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The OCR investigates complaints filed by parties who believe they are the victims of unlawful discrimination, but it has no power to bring lawsuits on its own. The OCR prefers to settle discrimination complaints through negotia- tion with school officials, but in some instances it refers cases to the Justice Department, which then decides whether to file suit against the school district. One agency that can bring civil suits directly against violators is the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC routinely files suit in federal district court against parties who are accused of securities fraud under federal law and the commission’s own regula- tions. 38 The SEC is empowered to seek injunctions, the “disgorgement” of ill-gotten gains, and civil penalties. For example, in SEC v. Fabri-Centers of America, Inc., the court entered an order requiring the defendant to pay a $25,000 civil penalty, almost $24,000 in dis- gorgement and nearly $21,000 in prejudgment interest. 39 Citizen-Initiated Lawsuits In some instances citizens can go to court directly rather than wait for a government agency to act on a violation of public policy. For example, Section 505(a) of the Clean Water Act authorizes private citizens to commence a civil action for injunctive relief and/or the impo- sition of civil penalties in federal district court against any person “alleged to be in violation” of the conditions of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. However, Section 505(a) does not allow citizen suits for “wholly past violations.” 40 An increasingly popular form of citizen-initiated litigation is the qui tam action. Qui tam is short for the Latin phrase, “ qui tam pro domino rege quam pro sic ipso in hoc parte se- quitur, ” which means “who sues for the king sues for himself as well.” According to Black’s Law Dictionary, a qui tam suit is “an action brought by an informer, under a statute which establishes a penalty for the commission or omission of a certain act, and provides that the same shall be recoverable in a civil action, part of the penalty to go to any person who will bring such action and the remainder to the state or some other institution.” The Federal False Claims Act allows private citizens to file suit on behalf of the U.S. government charg- ing fraud by government contractors and others who receive federal funds. 41 If the plaintiff prevails, the government can recover triple its damages in addition to civil penalties ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 per violation. The citizen (referred to as the relator ) shares in the 398 PART 4 Legislative and Administrative Developments in the Law
monetary damages collected up to a maximum of 30 percent. The False Claims Act was en- acted by Congress during the Civil War in order to ferret out fraud in military procurement.
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 27 pages?
- Fall '12
- Administrative Procedure Act, Independent agencies of the United States government