FCA NOW

Borrowers and Banks Beware: The New Year Brings the Nation’s First False Claims Act Settlement for Paycheck Protection Program Fraud

Kirk Schuler

On January 12, 2021, the Eastern District of California entered into a civil settlement with a Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) borrower and its CEO to resolve allegations of fraud.  The settlement stemmed from a $350,000 PPP loan that SlideBelts Inc., an internet retail company, received even though it was a prohibited borrower as a debtor in bankruptcy.  This is the first civil settlement for PPP-related...

In the First FCA Appellate Case of 2021, the Fourth Circuit Affirms the Dismissal of Relators’ Claims for Lack of Scienter and Failing to Engage in Protected Activity

Kirk Schuler

On January 8, 2021, in the first appellate decision of the year addressing a False Claims Act case, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the summary judgment dismissal of relators’ claims that a manufacturer of allergenic extracts violated the FCA.  Skibo v. Greer Labs., 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 508 (Jan. 8, 2021) (per curiam). Like most FCA cases that arrive in the United States Courts of Appeals,...

DOJ Demonstrates Continued Focus on Opioid Crisis with $600 Million Criminal and Civil Settlement Against Indivior Solutions, Indivior Inc., and Indivior plc

Vanessa J. Szalapski

The Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) most recent settlement with Indivior Solutions, Inc., Indivior Inc., and Indivior plc (together, “Indivior”) demonstrates not only that the DOJ is continuing its pursuit of claims and settlements related to the opioid crisis, but also that the DOJ is searching for creative penalties beyond large monetary payouts. In a July 24, 2020 press release, the DOJ announced a $600 million...

Another Escobar Exemplar: District of New Jersey Finds Materiality Lacking

Lindsey Schmidt

Last week, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed a qui tam action against Defendants Pioneer Education, LLC, Pioneer Education Manager, Inc., Jolie Health & Beauty Academy, and Joseph Visconti (collectively, “the Academy”) alleging violations of the False Claims Act (“FCA”), 31 U.S.C. § 3729-33. United States ex rel. Lampkin v. Pioneer Educ., LLC, No. 16-cv-1817, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136022...

The Granston Memo Strikes Again, but the Standards for Dismissal Remain Unclear

Donna Reuter

As has been emphasized with the disclosure of the “Granston Memo” in January 2018 and several cases since, the government may request dismissal of a qui tam action filed under the False Claims Act (“FCA”), 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq., in certain circumstances, and even over the relator’s objection and when the government has declined to intervene. Recently, the Southern District of New York...

Court Enters Judgment Totaling More Than $32 Million on Mississippi Jury’s $10.8 Million Verdict, Demonstrating Risks for Defendants Found Guilty of False Claims Act Violations at Trial

Siena Caruso

Shortly before COVID-19 halted jury proceedings across the United States, a Mississippi jury sided with the Government to return a $10.8 million verdict against Stone County Hospital and several affiliates for what the jury found were false Medicare claims submitted in violation of the False Claims Act (“FCA”). United States ex rel. Aldridge v. Corporate Management, Inc., et al., Case No. 1:16cv369-HTW-LRA (S.D. Miss.). In...

$4.47 Million False Claims Act Settlement Targets Set-Aside Contractors, Affiliates, and Even Third-Party Bonding Company

Caitlin Hull

Over three years after the filing of the initial sealed complaint, a New York-based construction company and several affiliates—including its bonding company—have agreed to pay a combined $4.47 million to settle a False Claims Act case alleging a decade-long scheme to fraudulently obtain federal contracts set aside for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concerns (“SDVOSBCs”) and small businesses operating in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (“HUBZones”). United...

False Claims Act Exposure for Beneficiaries of the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Relief Fund: Mitigating Risks of Ambiguous Terms & Conditions

Andrew Brantingham

I. Introduction The CARES Act allocated $100 billion in relief funds to hospitals and other healthcare providers, to be distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Relief Fund (or “Provider Relief Fund”). Many healthcare providers across the country have received payments from the Fund, beginning with an initial tranche of $30 billion distributed in...

Importer and Its Executives Pay $5.2 Million Under FCA for Evading U.S. Tariffs

Dave Townsend

An importer recently agreed to pay $5.2 million to settle a False Claims Act (“FCA”) case alleging evasion of antidumping duties (“AD”) on wooden bedroom furniture from China. The importer, Blue Furniture Solutions, LLC (now doing business through its successor, XMillenium LLC), allegedly imported merchandise into the United States using false descriptions and invoices that claimed the merchandise was outside the scope of the China...

Underwriter Failed to Meet Employer’s Expectations, and thus His FCA Retaliation Burden, at Least in the Eighth Circuit

Briana Al Taqatqa

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the Eastern District of Missouri’s dismissal of appellant’s retaliation claim under the False Claims Act, as well as his state law wrongful discharge claim and quasi-contract claims. The decision, Sherman v. Berkadia Commer. Mortg. LLC, No. 19-1373, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 11713 (8th Cir. Apr. 14, 2020), is yet another example of the...