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Brian Tully McLaughlin is a partner in the Government Contracts Group in Washington, D.C. and co-chair of the False Claims Act Practice. Tully's practice focuses on False Claims Act investigations and litigation, particularly trial and appellate work, as well as litigation of a variety of complex claims, disputes, and recovery matters. Tully’s False Claims Act experience spans procurement fraud, healthcare fraud, defense industry fraud, and more. He conducts internal investigations and represents clients in government investigations who are facing fraud or False Claims Act allegations. Tully has successfully litigated False Claims Act cases through trial and appeal, both those brought by whistleblowers / qui tam relators and the Department of Justice alike. He also focuses on affirmative claims recovery matters, analyzing potential claims and changes, counseling clients, and representing government contractors, including subcontractors, in claims and disputes proceedings before administrative boards of contract appeals and the Court of Federal Claims, as well as in international arbitration. His claims recovery experience includes unprecedented damages and fee awards. Tully has appeared and tried cases before judges and juries in federal district courts, state courts, and administrative boards of contract appeals, and he has argued successful appeals before the D.C. Circuit, the Federal Circuit, and the Fourth and Seventh Circuits.

On May 1, 2024, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Insight Global LLC (Insight), an international staffing and services company, will pay $2.7 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by failing to implement adequate cybersecurity measures to protect personal health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII) under its contracts with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) to provide staffing for COVID-19 contact tracing services.  Although contracts with state agencies generally fall outside the FCA’s ambit, PADOH paid Insight using funds received from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—bringing the contract within the FCA’s scope. Continue Reading No End “Insight” for DOJ’s Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative

A recently-announced False Claims Act (FCA) settlement illustrates how government contractors and other FCA defendants can take advantage of a Department of Justice (DOJ) policy that rewards voluntary self-disclosure to, and subsequent cooperation with, the government.Continue Reading False Claims Act Settlement Illustrates Value of Disclosure and Cooperation

2023 brought many important False Claims Act developments for companies with business involving government funds.  While overall recoveries remained down compared to pre-2022 levels, the total number of settlements and judgments exceeded any prior year.  Those settlements and judgments also highlight areas of particular focus for the Government, including cybersecurity compliance, pandemic fraud, and small

On October 11, 2023, the Department of Justice announced a $9 million settlement with Victory Automotive Group Inc. (VAG) to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by knowingly providing false information in support of its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.  This settlement is one of the larger ones to date related to receipt of a PPP loan and one of the first in which affiliation rendered a PPP borrower other than small.Continue Reading Affiliation Renders PPP Borrower Not Small for its $6.28M PPP Loan, Resulting in a $9M FCA Settlement

A False Claims Act (FCA) settlement recently announced by the U.S. Department of Justice stands at the intersection of two evolving trends:  DOJ’s increasing focus on cybersecurity lapses by government contractors as part of its Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative, and DOJ policies incentivizing corporations to voluntarily self-disclose violations of federal law.

On September 5, 2023, DOJ announced a $4 million settlement with Verizon Business Network Services LLC (Verizon) addressing allegations that Verizon violated the FCA because certain telecommunications services it provided to federal agencies under its General Services Administration (GSA) contracts did not comply with applicable cybersecurity requirements, namely the Office of Management and Budget’s Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) initiative.  DOJ specifically alleged that Verizon’s Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Service (MTIPS)—an information technology service that allows federal agencies to securely connect to public internet and external networks—did not comply with three security controls in the Department of Homeland Security’s TIC Reference Architecture Document, including a control that required the use of FIPS 140-2 validated cryptography.  The Verizon settlement represents the latest example of DOJ’s continued focus on cybersecurity cases, a trend that we believe will only continue to escalate going forward.Continue Reading Civil Cyber-Fraud Settlement Highlights Potential for Cooperation Credit

Although the COVID-19 public health declaration officially ended in May, government investigations of pandemic relief fraud are from over. As observed in a recent report by the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, investigations will likely ensue for years to come in light of Congress’s decision to extend the statute of limitations to ten

The continual push and pull between the courts and Congress over the contours of the False Claims Act (“FCA”) has once again spawned proposed legislation unfavorable to FCA defendants, this time poised to curtail defense arguments that continued government payment of claims in the face of alleged noncompliance with contractual or other legal requirements demonstrates a lack of materiality.

On July 25, 2023, a bipartisan group of senators proposed legislation entitled the “False Claims Act Amendments of 2023.”  Spearheaded by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the principal author of the 1986 FCA amendments, the bill purportedly attempts to close certain FCA defense “loopholes” left open by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, 579 U.S. 176 (2016) (“Escobar”).  Senator Grassley has been an outspoken critic of more recent FCA judicial developments, which he deems a gradual curbing of the power of the “single greatest tool in the fight against fraud.”  These newest proposed amendments are another example of Grassley’s advocacy for stronger and more rigid fraud enforcement than courts have been willing to impose based on the text of the FCA. Continue Reading He’s a Material Guy in a Material World: Senator Grassley Proposes FCA Amendments to Weaken Materiality Defense Where Government Pays Despite Knowledge of Non-Compliance

On June 16, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court, in United States ex rel. Polansky v. Executive Health Resources Inc., held that the Government may seek dismissal of a False Claims Act (“FCA”) qui tam suit over a relator’s objection so long as it intervenes in the litigation, either during the initial seal period or afterward.  The Court also held that, when handling such a motion, district courts should apply Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 41(a), the rule generally governing voluntary dismissal of suits.  And in a dissent that—in the long run—may end up being more impactful than the Court’s holding, Justice Thomas (joined in a concurring opinion by Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett) questioned the constitutionality of the qui tam provisions themselves.  Continue Reading See(2)(A) You Later: Supreme Court Holds that DOJ Has Broad Dismissal Authority Even After Unsealing

In this episode, Jason Crawford, Brian Tully McLaughlin, and Agustin Orozco explore the issues before the Supreme Court in two consolidated cases involving the False Claims Act. The hosts discuss the April 18 oral argument in Schutte/Proctor where the question before the Justices is whether a defendant’s subjective knowledge about whether its conduct was legal

Next Tuesday, April 18, 2023, the highest court in the land will hear arguments in what is poised to be the most influential False Claims Act (FCA) case since the landmark decision in Universal Health Servs. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016).  On January 13, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to hear two consolidated appeals from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in United States ex rel. Schutte v. SuperValu Inc., 9 F.4th 455 (7th Cir. 2021) and United States ex rel. Proctor v. Safeway, Inc., 30 F.4th 649 (7th Cir. 2022).  The Court’s decision will likely have far-reaching ramifications for FCA cases involving ambiguous contractual or regulatory requirements and may also provide benchmarks for assessing the key element of scienter across all FCA cases.  

In Supervalu and Safeway, the Seventh Circuit joined several of its sister circuits in applying the scienter standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Safeco Insurance Company of America v. Burr, 551 U.S. 47 (2007) to the FCA, finding that a defendant’s conduct is not reckless when (1) acting under an objectively reasonable, albeit erroneous, interpretation of an ambiguous regulation or contract provision; and (2) no authoritative guidance existed to warn the defendant away from that interpretation. Continue Reading Fair Warning Protection or a “Free Pass to Fleece the Public Fisc”?: SCOTUS Takes Up the Safeco Objective Reasonableness Standard and Subjective Intent Under the FCA