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
New Jersey Firm Pays $2.2M to Settle FCA Allegations it Received Improper PPP Loan
On April 3, 2023, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey announced a settlement with a public relations firm to resolve allegations that the New Jersey company violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by receiving a $2 million second-draw loan from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to which the company was not…
Let’s Talk FCA: False Claims Act Enforcement Trends
In this episode, hosts Michael Shaheen and Jason Crawford discuss the Department of Justice’s recently announced False Claims Act (FCA) recovery statistics for fiscal year 2022. The podcast breaks down last year’s FCA activity—which included a record number of new matters—and considers what the trends could portend for fraud enforcement in the year to come.
What DOJ’s 2022 Recovery Stats Reveal About FCA Enforcement Trends
On February 7, 2023, the Department of Justice issued the False Claims Act (FCA) recovery statistics for fiscal year 2022. While the $2.2 billion recovered by the Department and qui tam relators was down from the prior year, 2022 saw a record number of new FCA matters initiated. Underscoring the flurry of FCA activity, there…
FCA Settlement Offers Reminder of the Importance of TAA and PRC Compliance
The Department of Justice has announced a $14 million False Claims Act (FCA) settlement with Coloplast, a medical product manufacturer, after Coloplast self-disclosed violations of the Trade Agreements Act (TAA) and Price Reduction Clause (PRC) while under contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The TAA requires contractors to furnish end products that are U.S.-made or “substantially transformed” in designated countries. Coloplast disclosed that it misapplied the substantial-transformation standard, causing Coloplast to report incorrect countries of origin for products and to improperly retain certain products on contract after manufacturing moved to non-designated countries. Coloplast also disclosed that it overbilled the Government by failing to provide the VA with discounts pursuant to the terms of the PRC, which normally requires tracking discounts offered to designated commercial customers and offering corresponding downward price adjustments to VA customers. …
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Fifth Circuit Declines to Take a Side in the FCA Circuit Split on DOJ’s Dismissal Authority Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 3730(c)(2)(A)
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently rejected an argument advanced by two subsidiaries of a nationwide health care “watchdog” that the government improperly moved to dismiss two False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuits in U.S. ex rel. Health Choice Alliance LLC et al. v. Eli Lilly & Co. Inc. et al., No. 19-40906 (5th Cir. Jul. 7, 2021). The relators accused Bayer Corp. and Eli Lilly & Co. Inc. of participating in a kickback scheme by offering free patient-education services to providers in exchange for providers prescribing their products in violation of the Anti-Kickback Act and the FCA. The government initially declined to intervene in the cases, then a year later, notified the relators that it intended to move to dismiss and detailed its concerns about the viability of the cases. After two-and-a-half months of negotiations with the relators, the government moved to dismiss the cases pursuant to its authority under 31 U.S.C. § 3730(c)(2)(A), citing, among other things, its two-year investigation into the relators’ cases. The District Court granted the motions and the relators appealed.
Before undertaking its substantive analysis under the FCA, the Fifth Circuit analyzed whether it had jurisdiction to hear the relators’ appeal. Though the relators and government agreed that there was appellate jurisdiction, the Fifth Circuit identified a potential issue based on the timeline of two events: (1) relators’ voluntary dismissal without prejudice; and (2) the District Court’s order granting the government’s motion to dismiss. Specifically, the Fifth Circuit analyzed whether the relators’ voluntary dismissal eight months prior to the government’s motion to dismiss deprived the District Court of the ability to issue a final appealable order. The Fifth Circuit declined to create a Circuit split on the question, and concluded “that the prior without-prejudice dismissals did not deprive the district court’s subsequent decision of finality.”…
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Subcontracting Status Reports, Even if False, Are Not Claims Under the FCA
In U.S. ex rel. Howard v. Caddell Construction Company, Inc., 2021 WL 1206584 (E.D.N.C. Mar. 30, 2021), the District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina held that status reports certifying compliance with subcontracting rules do not constitute false claims under the False Claims Act (“FCA”) because the claims were not relevant to the contract payments. …
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District Court Reverses Course on Whether Kickbacks Presumptively Inflated Government Costs Under the False Claims Act
On June 3, 2021, the district court judge in U.S. ex rel. Conyers v. Halliburton Co. et al., reversed on reconsideration a prior ruling that a kickback presumptively inflates a contract price under the False Claims Act (FCA). The court previously held that the government was entitled to a rebuttable presumption that kickbacks received by a former employee of the prime contractor, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), inflated the contract price under the False Claims Act. The judge revised that ruling, citing to a factual dispute over whether the kickback actually inflated the amount the government paid to reimburse KBR for its subcontract costs. The dispute centered on the falsity element of the FCA and whether KBR submitted, or caused to be submitted, a false claim for payment to the government. The revised decision is consistent with other FCA case law holding that falsity cannot be predicated on a presumption, and that the government must prove that kickbacks actually inflated the contract price.
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False Claims Act Consent Judgment Prompts Termination of SDVOSB Status Even Without an Admission of Liability
In its recent decision, CVE Appeal of First State Manufacturing, Inc., SBA No. CVE-184-A (2021), the Small Business Administration Office of Hearing and Appeals (OHA) denied an appeal of a decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) to cancel First State Manufacturing, Inc.’s verification of service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) status. CVE issued its Notice of Verified Status Cancellation based on concerns of present responsibility related to a consent judgment entered into merely a month before to resolve a False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit against First State that required First State to pay over $393,000. Prior to the FCA lawsuit, First State’s Vice President for Marketing/Contract Administration and Chief Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer were criminally charged, pled guilty, and were sentenced to prison terms for bribing an Amtrak official to win federal Government contracts. In the appeal before OHA, First State argued that CVE erred in cancelling its verified SDVOSB status for two reasons: (1) the FCA consent judgment was based upon an underlying FCA settlement agreement that did not admit liability or wrongdoing by First State; and (2) the Federal Railway Administration, which oversees Amtrak funding, determined that First State was “presently responsible,” and that the likelihood of future harm to the Government did not warrant suspension or debarment. First State further argued that as the Federal Railway Administration is the agency with the potential injury, its determination of present responsibility should have been given greater deference by CVE.
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How Vast Government Aid and Imaginative Enforcement Could Mean FCA Liability for a Growing Breadth of Industries
Over the past few years, both the government and False Claims Act relators (whistleblowers) have targeted more types of defendants than they have ever previously. Against this backdrop, Congress passed two of the largest relief bills in modern history and thus even more companies find themselves involved with the federal government in a new way…