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False Claims Act Statistics, News & Analysis

  • 19
  • October
  • 2017

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Not a Bullseye, But the Government Hits Its Mark, Settling Triple Canopy for $2.6 Million

Earlier this week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced that defense contractor Triple Canopy has agreed to settle the long-running FCA suit related to its provision of security services in Iraq. Although a victory for the government, contractors can take some comfort from the fact that the $2.6 million settlement represents less than 25 percent of the damages sought in the government’s complaint-in-intervention (which totaled more than $12 million when trebled). $500,000 of the settlement will be paid to the relator pursuant to the FCA’s qui tam provisions.

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  • 13
  • October
  • 2017

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It’s Déjà vu All over Again: Resetting the FCA Stats Tracker for FY 2018

It’s that time again; time to press the reset button and reflect on the past fiscal year’s FCA statistics. Fiscal Year 2017, which came to a close on September 30th, was a big year here at LLB as it marks the first year we were able to track FCA statistics for the entire year in real time. LLB has been through some changes since the last time we did this; just recently, we premiered our new custom date range tool on the data set for increased precision in your searches and today we premiered a new copy link feature. However, one thing has remained constant: our readership’s interest in FCA enforcement statistics. With that in mind, we now present to you a breakdown of our preliminary assessment of FY 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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Litigation Update: Ninth Circuit Stays Mandate to allow Gilead to Seek Cert on Key Post-Escobar Issues

We reported previously on yet another implied certification case raising significant questions about materiality and falsity in the post-Escobar world, United States ex. rel. Campie v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., in which the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of the case.

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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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  • 28
  • September
  • 2017

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Futrell Enters the Fray on Whether the FCA Covers the E-Rate Program Despite Funding from Telecomm. Industry

Last month, a Missouri district court in U.S. ex rel. Futrell v. E-Rate Program, LLC handed down a decision of interest to the telecommunications industry. The defendant contracts with schools and school districts to help them obtain funds under the E-Rate Program, a program that provides subsidies and discounts to schools to secure affordable telecommunications and Internet access. The program is administered by USAC, a private non-profit organization subject to regulations of (but not controlled by) the FCC, and is funded by mandatory contributions from private interstate telecommunications carriers. The Futrell court found that FCA liability may exist in such circumstances, even though the USAC funds are not government dollars. The Futrell decision adds to a disagreement between at least two district courts and one circuit court on this issue.

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  • 26
  • September
  • 2017

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False Claims Act Cert. Monitor: Eight FCA Petitions on the 2017 Docket So Far

With the first day of fall comes the new term at the Supreme Court, and with the new term comes the chance to catch up with petitions we wrote about last year and with new petitions filed over the summer. We know of at least six FCA petitions that were set to be considered at the Court’s Long Conference on September 25, and we should learn their fates this week. Meanwhile, we have tracked down two other petitions still in briefing. These petitions touch on everything from the Rule 9(b) pleading standard, to reverse false claims, to knowledge in the face of ambiguous rules, to Escobar’s two-part falsity test, to sanctions for relator misconduct.

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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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Open Season for FCA Relators? Ninth Circuit Finds Falsity in Gilead Case Despite Possible Discrepancy with Sister Court

We’re back with our second installment on the Ninth Circuit’s decision in United States ex. rel. Campie v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., No. 15-16380, 2017 WL 2884047 (9th Cir. July 7, 2017). If Gilead’s materiality ruling left you scratching your head, then best take a seat now, because the falsity analysis is even more puzzling. But peel back the problematic legal analysis, and what seems to have driven the Ninth Circuit to let this case proceed past the pleadings is that relators alleged specific examples of the defendant having misled the government about the product it was selling. Despite our other criticisms of this opinion, Gilead’s emphasis on alleged specific misrepresentations is a saving grace because it is consistent with Escobar’s two-part implied certification test, which requires (1) a specific representation that (2) is made a misleading half-truth by omission.

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  • 22
  • August
  • 2017

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Government's Trip to Fairyland Comes at a Price: Sixth Circuit Vindicates FCA Defendant's Demand for Attorneys' Fees

The Sixth Circuit on Friday issued a decision holding that where the government had pursued a “nearly frivolous” theory of FCA damages wildly in excess of actual damages, defendants were entitled to recover the costs of defending themselves — even where the fraud itself was substantiated. This decision is welcome news to defendants who may not “prevail” in the common sense of the word (by fending off liability entirely) but for whom the cost of defending is driven disproportionately high by the government’s aggressive and unjustified litigation positions. And in the process, the court cast doubt on some applications of the government’s common “taint” theory of liability, under which it argues that (sometimes minor) frauds deprive the government of the full value of a contract.

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Will Defendants Be Left With the Tab, Even When Government Pays the Bill?: Courts Continue to Wrestle With Post-Escobar Materiality Standard

Potentially adding to continued confusion regarding what to make of materiality in Escobar's wake, two more recent cases — one stemming from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the other from the Court of Federal Claims — have addressed when FCA claims fail because the government paid the bill with knowledge of the alleged noncompliance with underlying rules or requirements. In both cases, defendants urged the courts to strike down FCA claims by relying on Escobar’s holding that “if the Government pays a particular claim in full despite its actual knowledge that certain requirements were violated, that is very strong evidence that those requirements are not material.” Universal Health Servs., Inc. v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 1989, 2003-04 (2016). The Court of Federal Claims, after a trial, agreed with defendants, while the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, on a motion to dismiss, did not.

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A Year after U.S. ex rel. Escobar, Lower Courts Diverge on Key Question in Implied-False-Certification FCA Suits

Just over a year ago, False Claims Act (FCA) watchers eagerly awaited the US Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. ex rel. Escobar v. Universal Health Services, Inc., expecting that it would resolve once and for all whether implied false certification is a valid FCA theory. V&E’s Craig Margolis and Christian Sheehan provide a post-Escobar analysis in an article they recently wrote for Washington Legal Foundation (WLF).

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The Second Circuit Protests Too Much We Think — Disguising Deepening Split on Rule 9(b)

Injecting additional uncertainty into the already-muddled case law regarding what precisely must be pleaded with particularity under Rule 9(b), the Second Circuit in U.S. ex rel. Chorches v. American Medical Response, Inc., No. 15-3930, 2017 WL 3180616 (July 27, 2017), held that a relator need not identify a specific invoice in order to adequately plead that a false claim was presented to the government. While Chorches would seem to deepen a circuit split on Rule 9(b) — one the Supreme Court has repeatedly declined to take up — the Second Circuit goes to great lengths to downplay its existence. According to the Second Circuit, “the reports of a circuit split are, like those prematurely reporting Mark Twain’s death, greatly exaggerated.”

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A Bad Week for Copycat Relators: Fourth and D.C. Circuits Say First-to-File Bars Cases Brought While Earlier-Filed Cases Were Pending Even After Earlier Case Is Dismissed

Defendants facing serial, related qui tam cases should breathe a collective sigh of relief because the Fourth Circuit and the D.C. Circuit have just rejected relators’ efforts to undermine the first-to-file bar. In decisions issued less than a week apart, the D.C. Circuit in U.S. ex rel. Shea v. Cellco Partnership, Nos. 15-7135 & 15-7136, and the Fourth Circuit in U.S. ex rel. Carter v. Halliburton Co., No. 16-1262, both held that the first-to-file bar compels dismissal of actions brought while earlier-filed actions were pending, even if those earlier-filed actions have since been dismissed. Both courts also put the kibosh on those relators’ efforts to evade the first-to-file bar by amending their complaints after dismissal of the earlier-filed action. We’re proud to say that the attorneys of Vinson & Elkins, the same people who bring you LLB, represented the defendants in Carter and an amicus supporting the defendants in Shea.

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