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False Claims Act Statistics, News & Analysis

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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Time to Take Your Medicine: Fifth Circuit Decision Diagnoses Problems with Causation Arguments

Last month, we covered United States ex rel. King v. Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. on the issue of the FCA’s public disclosure bar pre-Affordable Care Act. Today, we explore another aspect of that same opinion — the causation requirements necessary to sustain a fraudulent inducement FCA claim. The Fifth Circuit delivered relators a dose of bitter medicine in its opinion, affirming the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendant pharmaceutical company on the grounds that relators failed to demonstrate a causal link between the alleged false statements and any actual false claims.

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Up-Up-And-Away: $92.9 Million FCA Verdict Balloons to $295.5 Million Judgment After Court Imposes Treble Damages and Near-Max FCA Penalties

On Friday, a Houston federal court entered judgment totaling $295.5 million in an FCA and FIRREA (Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989) case, up from the jury’s verdict of $92.9 million. The case is United States v. Allied Home Mortgage Corporation, et al., 4:12-cv-02676-GCH (S.D. Tex.), and it centers around defaulted home mortgage loans insured through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). We here at LLB previously wrote about the jury’s verdict in this intervened qui tam (available here).

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Back to Basics with the Original Source: Pre-ACA Public Disclosure Bar

With the fate of the Affordable Care Act in question these days, the FCA community nevertheless continues its struggle to understand and cope with the changes wrought to the statute over seven years ago through the 2010 ACA amendments. And yet, due in large part to the quirky nature of the FCA’s sealing provision, which results in cases existing “undercover” for years, application of pre-ACA law remains an occasional necessity. In September, the Eighth and Fifth Circuits each examined the question of what it means to be a pre-ACA “original source,” the saving grace for relators whose allegations would otherwise be subject to dismissal under the public disclosure bar.

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False Claims Act Cert. Monitor: Attorneys’ Fees, Reverse False Claims, Public Disclosure Bar, and Government Employees as Relators Feature in Three New Petitions

Three new FCA relator cert. petitions have landed in the past few weeks, covering the gamut of FCA legal issues.

First, the relator in U.S. ex rel. Harper v. Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, 16-1278, takes us back to 1L Property, alleging that the Army in 1949 granted the defendant water district a “determinable fee simple estate subject to a possibility of reverter interest retained by the United States.” In other words, the government gave the water district government land to keep so long as the land was used for recreation, conservation, etc. The relator contends that when the defendant entered into oil and gas leases on the land but kept the land and the lease income, it knowingly and improperly avoided an obligation to return the property and income to the government—i.e., a conversion reverse false claim. The question presented to the Court is whether, for a reverse false claim, the relator needed to plead that the defendant subjectively knew that it was violating the terms of the deed and had not committed a mistake of law. A potential difficulty for this petition, however, is that neither Sixth Circuit’s majority nor the dissent focused on the question of subjective knowledge of mistake of law, but rather on whether the relator pleaded sufficient facts from which the court could infer that the defendant “knew or should have known” of the requirement to return the property. The response is currently due June 26, 2017.

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Fifth Circuit Holds Relators’ Rubber Stamp Anxiety Insufficient to Clear Escobar’s Materiality Hurdle Given Government Inaction after Investigation

The Fifth Circuit recently issued a helpful materiality decision for defendants in Abbott v. BP Exploration & Production, finding that the Department of the Interior’s (“DOI”) decision to allow an oil production facility to continue operating after an investigation into the relators’ allegations is “strong evidence” that a regulation’s alleged stamping requirement is not material. No. 16-20028, 2017 WL 992506 (5th Cir. Mar. 14, 2017).

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