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False Claims Act Statistics, News & Analysis

"The Granston Memorandum": Will DOJ Really Bite the Hands That Feed the FCA — Color LLB Skeptical

Last November, we reported that Michael Granston, Director of the DOJ Commercial Litigation Branch, Fraud Section, announced at a health care conference that in the future DOJ would move to dismiss meritless qui tam cases. We doubted that much would change, especially given that the speech was not accompanied by any type of policy memorandum. We also understood that DOJ had denied any formal change in policy, and yet, last week the other shoe dropped. The New York Law Journal obtained a copy of a memorandum issued by Granston and dated January 10 to all attorneys in the Fraud Section and all Assistant U.S. Attorneys handling FCA cases. The memorandum purports to encourage DOJ to “seek[] dismissal” of non-intervened qui tam cases that “lack substantial merit” and discusses at some length the factors that should guide the exercise of dismissal discretion. Perhaps the memorandum is some reason for optimism, but we at LLB will wait, as we do, for the statistics to see if this marks any real shift in government thinking on FCA enforcement or is mere window dressing.

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Two Courts Confirm Penalties Not Yet Issued Do Not Support Reverse False Claims

The D.C. Circuit and the Tenth Circuit recently joined several other circuits, including the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth, in holding that liability for reverse false claims cannot be based on contingent obligations to pay the government (meaning obligations to pay that may arise after future discretionary actions), reaffirming that when Congress amended the FCA in 2009 to define the term “obligation,” it intended that liability would result for reverse false claims only where there are failures to pay specific, definite obligations owed to the government.

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The Gift That Keeps On Giving: Pre-ACA Public Disclosure Bar's Stringent Original Source Requirements Defeat Relator's Claim in the Fifth Circuit

As we have written about previously, although almost eight years have passed since the 2010 ACA amendments, because qui tam actions often stay under seal for many years, there are numerous cases before the courts to this day that involve conduct that occurred prior to the amendments. Most recently, the Fifth Circuit in United States ex rel Solomon v. Lockheed Martin Corp. upheld a grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman where the relator failed to show that his knowledge of the allegedly false claim was not derived from earlier public disclosures under the pre-2010 amendments to the original source exception. 878 F.3d 139 (5th Cir. 2017).

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  • 11
  • January
  • 2018

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Penalty Preview: Department of Commerce Increase FCA Penalties 2% to a $22,363 Max Penalty, DOJ Likely Soon to Follow

As we wrote this time last year, each year, agencies are required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015 (“the Act”) to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation, including the FCA’s penalties. The agencies’ deadline to issue adjustments is January 15, though last year DOJ missed the deadline by two weeks. Previously, three agencies have issued adjustments for the FCA penalty range—DOJ, the Department of Commerce (“DOC”), and the Railroad Retirement Board (“RRB”)—each making the same dollar adjustment to the FCA’s penalties. Just as in 2017, DOC is first out of the gate with its adjustments, increasing the FCA penalties by about 2% from between $10,957 and $21,916 to between $11,181 and $22,363. We expect DOJ and RRB will follow suit with identical increases sometime in the next month, and we will let you know when they do.

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Impact of First Circuit's 2015 Gadbois' Decision on First-to-File Bar Limited by District Court on Remand

In a post right before the holidays, we noted that the district court in United States ex rel. Estate of Gadbois v. PharMerica Corp. interpreted the FCA’s government action bar as a perpetual bar to all claims brought by a relator in a qui tam action in which the government has intervened and settled, even when the government did not intervene in or settle all of the claims. No. 10-cv-471, 2017 WL 5466659 (D.R.I. Nov. 13, 2017). But there is more to the district court’s decision than the government action bar. In its government action bar analysis, the district court made a fairly technical civil procedure ruling that, if followed by other courts, should limit the ability of relators to use the First Circuit’s previous Gadbois decision to evade the FCA’s first-to-file bar and statute of limitations.

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