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False Claims Act Statistics, News & Analysis

Taking Out the Trash: District Court Grants Summary Judgment Where Federal Agencies Continued to Pay for Waste Removal Services Following Regulatory Violation

A Pennsylvania district court recently weighed in on the question of whether the government’s continued payment after the filing of a qui tam action defeats materiality under Escobar. In a decision helpful to FCA defendants, the court in United States ex rel. Cressman v. Solid Waste Services, Inc. granted the defendant summary judgment where the government continued to pay the defendant after the plaintiff filed his FCA action and DOJ declined to intervene.

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  • 04
  • May
  • 2018

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Halfway to the Finish Line for FY2018

Fiscal Year 2018 is just over halfway through and by our count the government has recovered just over $1.1 billion dollars through April 2018. This year so far is consistent with last year, which clocked in at $1.2 billion by April 2017, but lags far behind FY16, which at this point had pulled down a hefty $3.8 billion already. Careful readers may recall that the FY16 numbers are a bit skewed by the single $1.2 billion Wells Fargo settlement, which landed on April 8, 2016. Yet even without Wells Fargo, FY16 remains the undisputed leader of recent years, and the DOJ of 2018 will have to do some serious sprinting if they want to catch up to the team of two years ago.

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It Doesn’t Take an Eisenstein to See the Eleventh Circuit Missed the Mark: New Decision Allowing Relators to Extend Statute of Limitations Is Contrary to Supreme Court Precedent and Creates Circuit Split

While not rocket science, or even particle physics, the FCA was complicated enough without introducing yet a new circuit split. Yet, in United States ex rel. Hunt v. Cochise Consultancy, Inc., the Eleventh Circuit has disagreed with at least two other circuits (the Fourth and the Tenth) in holding that relators in non-intervened qui tam actions can rely on a statutory exception to the otherwise-applicable six-year statute of limitations that allows suit to be brought within three years of when the government learns of the potential fraud. The court parted ways with the majority view that only the government can rely on this alternative provision, a rule grounded in the sensible position that the government itself is only a party when it decides to intervene. The Supreme Court in U.S. ex rel. Eisenstein v. City of New York, 556 U.S. 928 (2009), recognized as much when it held that a relator in a non-intervened case could not take advantage of the government’s sixty-day appeal period and instead had only the usual thirty days available to an ordinary party. This was because, as the Court recognized, the United States itself is not a party to the appeal in a non-intervened case. Id. at 937. Without much analysis, the Eleventh Circuit simply found Eisenstein’s reasoning inapplicable and held there was no textual basis in the FCA to prevent relators from taking advantage of the three-year alternative found in 31 U.S.C. § 3731(b)(2). Again, without much reasoning or discussion, it simply found the Fourth and Tenth Circuits unpersuasive (never mind the multiple district courts that have sided with the majority rule). 

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Tour de Fraud? Lance Armstrong Settles FCA Claims Related to Doping Scandal

On April 19, 2018, former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong announced that he and the government reached a $5 million agreement to settle long-running FCA claims alleging he defrauded the government by submitting false claims for millions of dollars in United States Postal Service (“Postal Service”) sponsorship payments while lying about his use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (“PEDs”). The $5 million was a small fraction of the nearly $100 million in treble damages the government had sought.

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Escobar The Sequel? — Perhaps Coming Soon to SCOTUS

On April 16, 2018, the Supreme Court called for the views of the Solicitor General (or “CVSG”) as to whether it should review the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Gilead Sciences, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Campie (that we at LLB believe was wrongly decided and have covered previously). The CVSG may indicate the Court’s willingness to provide much-needed clarification to Escobar’s materiality standard.

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Mikes v. Straus "Particularity" Requirement May Be Dead, But Materiality is Alive and Well Among District Courts in the Second Circuit

A New York district court recently held in United States v. Strock that Escobar’s materiality standard applies, at a minimum, to express false certification and fraudulent inducement FCA theories in addition to the implied false certification theory at issue in Escobar. The court further held that the government failed adequately to plead materiality under Escobar and dismissed the case.

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