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David Fischer is special counsel in the Government Contracts, Investigations and International Trade Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

On Monday, May 14, 2019, the Supreme Court issued a decision essentially expanding by four years the time available for private suits to be brought by relators under the False Claims Act (“FCA”), regardless of whether the Government decides to intervene. In Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Hunt, No. 18-315, 2019 WL 2078086 (U.S. May 13, 2019), plaintiff-relator Billy Joe Hunt filed a complaint on November 27, 2013, alleging two defense contractors (collectively, “Cochise”) violated the FCA in 2006 and 2007 by submitting false claims for payment under a subcontract providing security services in Iraq. The United States declined to intervene, and Cochise moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the action was barred under the FCA’s statute of limitations clause, 31 U.S.C. § 3731.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Addresses False Claims Act Statute of Limitations

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently released its annual statistical report on recoveries and new matters under the False Claims Act (FCA). The aggregate reported recovery of $2.8 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2018 is the lowest such total since FY 2009 and is 17% lower than last year’s total and less than half of FY 2014’s all-time high recovery of over $6.1 billion. As the table below shows, however, DOJ’s and private qui tam relators’ levels of enforcement activity on behalf of the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Defense (DOD) in FY 2018 remained consistent with recent trends.
Continue Reading Health Care Suits at Center Stage in DOJ’s FCA Recovery Report for FY 2018

And it is even more difficult still if the defendant had – and acted in accordance with – a reasonable interpretation of the vague or ambiguous statute, regulation or contract
Continue Reading The Supreme Court Discusses When A Statute May Be Unconstitutionally Vague – Will It Be Extended to False Claims Act Cases?

A judge recently unsealed portions of the Department of Justice’s criminal discovery manual that provides Department policy for investigating and prosecuting criminal cases. As the DC Circuit explained two years ago, “[i]t contains information and advice for prosecutors about conducting discovery in their cases, including guidance about the government’s various obligations to provide discovery to defendant.” It was developed in large part in response to the horribly flawed prosecution of the late Sen. Ted Stevens – a case in which the judge threw out the conviction because the federal prosecutors hid evidence from the defense team, including contradictory statements by a key witness.   
Continue Reading DOJ’s Blue Book Partially Unsealed

Memorandum dated January 10, 2018 and authored by Michael Granston, Director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, was published on January 24, 2018 (the “Memorandum”). The Memorandum, addressed to DOJ attorneys, describes the factors that government attorneys should consider in deciding whether the government should voluntarily dismiss unmeritorious qui tam suits pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 3730(c)(2)(A). This policy guidance, which was picked up by the legal press just yesterday, comes after a three-month period in which the DOJ, the relator’s bar, and the defense bar alike have paid more than customary attention to the circumstances under which DOJ might dismiss an unmeritorious qui tam suit.
Continue Reading DOJ Formalizes Guidance for Government Dismissal of Unmeritorious Qui Tam Suits

An early report from the Health Care Compliance Association’s Health Care Enforcement Compliance Institute states that DOJ will be moving to dismiss False Claims Act cases that it concludes lack merit. DOJ has not yet posted the speech on its website but RACmonitor, an online news and information source for healthcare providers, reports that:

In announcing a significant policy change, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said that when it concludes that a qui tam case lacks merit, it will file a motion to dismiss the case rather than allowing the relator to continue.

The surprise announcement was made by Michael Granston, director of the commercial litigation branch of the fraud section in the DOJ’s civil division, during the Health Care Compliance Association’s Health Care Enforcement Compliance Institute in Washington, D.C. on Monday.
Continue Reading Change in Policy or Same Old Story? DOJ Suggests it Will Dismiss Unmeritorious Qui Tam Suits

The DC Circuit recently issued a decision in U.S. ex rel. McBride v. Halliburton — F.3d —-, 2017 WL 655439 (D.C. Cir. Feb. 17, 2017), in which it applied Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016) to a government contracts False Claims Act matter.  It found that the government’s failure to seek repayment after investigating a relator’s claim was “very strong evidence” that the false statement or claim was not material.

Continue Reading DC Circuit Finds Government Failure to Seek Repayment is “Very Strong Evidence” of Non-Materiality In False Claims Act Case

On December 6, 2016 the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) issued two final rules relating to the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and Civil Monetary Penalties (CMP).  These rules affect a wide variety of health care companies and also impact False Claims Act investigations and litigation.


Continue Reading HHS OIG Publishes Final Rule on Anti-Kickback Statute: Safe Harbors And Monetary Penalties