In these appeals, consolidated for our opinion, plaintiff sued defendants under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA), N.J.S.A. 4:22-11.1 to -60, to recover civil penalties for acts that he contended constituted animal cruelty under its provisions. Plaintiff lacked standing to sue in his individual capacity and the cases were dismissed. He contends the complaints were filed as qui tam actions under N.J.S.A. 4:22-26 which provided, in relevant part, that a person who violates the PCAA shall pay a civil penalty according to a schedule in the statute "to be sued for and recovered, with costs, in a civil action by any person in the name of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals".
We decline to interpret N.J.S.A. 4:22-26 as authorizing private citizens, who otherwise would not have standing, to sue for civil penalties under the PCAA in qui tam actions against other parties, who they alleged may have committed acts of animal cruelty. The language relied on by plaintiff does not signal authority for qui tam litigation in light of the PCAA's other provisions nor was it supported by the legislative history or case law. We affirm the dismissal of these cases for lack of standi