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False Claims Act Statistics, News & Analysis

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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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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  • 26
  • January
  • 2018

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"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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  • 02
  • January
  • 2018

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Ring in the New Year at ACI's FCA Conference

Happy New Year to our readers and thanks to you all for helping to make LLB such a success. We expect that 2018 will be at least as interesting as 2017 if not more so, and we at LLB intend to get off to a very strong start.  Indeed, we are preparing for the 5th Advanced Forum on False Claims & Qui Tam Enforcement, an annual American Conference Institute event focused on identifying and discussing strategies and trends in FCA enforcement. We have participated in this conference since its inception and find it to include a thorough, deep dive into the issues with speakers from the defense and relators’ bars, industry, and the government.

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