Thursday, August 30, 2012

Recents Blog Posts and Articles of Interests

I have recently come across of a number of blog posts and articles which I commend to you:

Scott Stein at Sidley Austin's Original Source blog writes about the case Halasa v. ITT Educational Services, Inc., 8/14/12, wherein the Seventh Circuit recently dismissed a False Claims Act retaliation claim and rejected the plaintiff's claim that "constructive knowledge" on the part of those who discharged him was sufficient to prove retaliation. The Court found that without actual knowledge of plaintiff's protected activities, plaintiff had not established a "causal link" between the plaintiff's reports of irregularities and his termination. 

 Under the column of interesting qui tams, the Department of Justice recently announced it had intervened in a qui tam suit filed against none other than the polling organization, Gallup.  "According to the whistleblower’s complaint, Gallup violated the False Claims Act by giving the government inflated estimates of the number of hours that it would take to perform its services, even though it had separate and lower internal estimates of the number of hours that would be required.   The complaint further alleges that the government paid Gallup based on the inflated estimates, rather than Gallup’s lower internal estimates."

Ellyn Sternfield at MintzLevin's Health Law & Policy Matters blog writes about the Repko case, wherein the Third Circuit dismissed the qui tam brought against Guthrie Healthcare System by its former general counsel and executive VP, Rodney Repko, on the grounds that Repko was not an original source such that he could avoid the public disclosure bar of the False Claims Act.  Repko had been charged with trying to steal two million dollars from Guthrie after he left the company and had pled guilty.  As part of his plea agreement, he was required to provide the government with "information concerning the unlawful activities of others."  As the article points out, the Third Circuit "was persuaded by the fact Repko had initially disclosed the challenged arrangements to the government under his plea agreement; the disclosure was bargained-for consideration which enabled Repko to obtain a lower sentence on his bank fraud charges.  While never mentioning the word 'voluntarily,' the court found that since the plea agreement compelled his disclosures to the government, Repko was essentially estopped from invoking the original source exception."

Douglas Baruch and John Boese of Fried Frank recently wrote a "FraudMail Alert®" on the case of United States v. BNP Paribas SA, No. H-11-3718, 2012 WL 3234233 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 6, 2012), wherein a federal court in Texas applied the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3287 (2008) (“WSLA”) and held that the statute of limitations in a False Claims Act case had been suspended  due to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. In addition, Baruch and Boese write "the district court’s ruling makes clear that the WSLA’s suspension is not limited to FCA cases arising out of wartime contracting or even Defense Department contracting in general, meaning that the FCA’s statute of limitations would be rendered ineffective in all sorts of cases, including those involving allegations arising out of the financial and healthcare industries."  Finding the case to run "counter to the plain meaning of the WSLA as well as the clear intent of Congress," they analyze the case in detail and declare it to be just plain "wrong."

A. Brian Albritton
August 30, 2012


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