Posts Tagged ‘qui tam’

Supreme Court roundup

  • “Cato Batted .500 at the Supreme Court, Still Besting the Government” [Ilya Shapiro] “Obama Has Lost In The Supreme Court More Than Any Modern President” [same, The Federalist]
  • Scalia’s absence left a void this year, but (Friedrichs aside) not mostly on case outcomes [Shapiro, Forbes] Scalia’s legacy on criminal defense [Kevin Ring, Cato Daily Podcast]
  • “Supreme Court Session Promised Much, Delivered Little To Business” [Daniel Fisher]
  • Relevant to Sotomayor and Kagan dissents in the exclusionary rule case, Utah v. Strieff: outstanding warrants are neither infrequent not randomly distributed [Alex Tabarrok, Orin Kerr, Tim Lynch/Cato, Scott Greenfield]
  • Can Congress pass a statute whose effect is to dictate a result in one pending case? Should it matter whether the plaintiffs are sympathetic terror victims? [Michael Greve, Jonathan Adler, Daniel Fisher first and second on Bank Markavi v. Peterson]
  • Government contracting: high court corrects First Circuit’s implausibly pro-plaintiff reading of False Claims Act [Richard Samp, Washington Legal Foundation on Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar]

Liability roundup

June 1 roundup

False Claims Act jumps the guardrails in E.D. Tex.

A $680 million award in the plaintiff-friendly Eastern District of Texas illustrates some of the problems with the federal False Claims Act, the whistleblower law enabling bounty-hunting suits against government vendors and contractors [Ilya Shapiro, earlier here, here, and here]:

Trinity contends — and the alleged federal-agency victim agrees! — that the re-designed device, which passed all diagnostic tests, met all the safety criteria required by the FHWA, and therefore that the omission of the redesign failed to qualify as the sort of “false statement” required for liability under the FCA. Despite a warning from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit regarding the weakness of the FCA claims, a trial court in the eastern district of Texas—known for being a “judicial hellhole”—moved the case forward, to an eventual jury verdict for Harman.

The jury found Trinity liable for more than $680 million in damages, which is the largest damage award in FCA history. Out of the millions in damages and penalties, the court awarded Harman a 30% share of the recovery, plus almost $19 million in attorneys’ fees and expenses.

Cato has submitted a Fifth Circuit amicus brief “arguing that the jury’s finding of liability and damages were unsustainable under the law.”

Bounty-hunting lawyer collects Illinois taxes nationwide

Wineries that ship to customers nationwide are among the latest targets of a Chicago attorney who has developed a lucrative freelance enforcement niche. Steven Diamond and his firm of Schad, Diamond and Shedden “have filed hundreds of suits against various companies in industries such as cookware, flowers and motorsports” and more recently beverage makers under “an Illinois law that requires businesses to collect sales taxes for the state, not only on what they sell, but on shipping-and-handling charges. A whistleblower rule allows anyone within the state to sue in the name of Illinois and collect any recovered funds.” [Wine Spectator] While a number of other states also tax shipping charges, Illinois authorities, unable to agree on how to interpret a relevant decision by their state’s high court, have given conflicting guidance on when taxes are owed. [Wines and Vines, Tom Wark, Schiff Hardin, WTAX]

P.S. Related on the practice of tax farming in the Roman Empire and pre-Revolutionary France, and latter-day parallels, here, here, and here.

“No, Your Medical Records Are Not Private”

HIPAA or no HIPAA, a variety of government agencies might get a look at your personal medical records. “HIPAA allows federal bureaucrats to get patient records merely by issuing administrative subpoenas, or civil investigative demands.” The records may also find their way into the hands of private lawyers, such as those representing qui tam relators under the False Claims Act. “‘Everybody’s got horror stories for what happens when the relators get into their stuff,’ said Jonathan Diesenhaus, a former DOJ senior trial lawyer who now represents health care companies as a partner with the Hogan Lovells law firm, to TheDCNF. ‘It becomes an avenue for abuse.'” [Kathryn Watson, Daily Caller]

Eastern District of Texas branches out

Marshall, Texas, famed as patent plaintiffs’ forum of choice, returns a $663 million False Claims Act verdict against Trinity Industries in guardrail supply case [Insurance Journal; earlier on the unique qualities of the Eastern District of Texas, earlier on the Trinity litigation here and here]

And more Marshall fun: Texas patent holding company files 49 lawsuits in a week, isn’t listed on own office building’s directory [Legal NewsLine]

Liability roundup

  • Lester Brickman, others testify before House subcommittee on proposed asbestos-reform FACT Act [Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine]
  • “B.C. student-turned-dominatrix awarded $1.5M after car accident left her with new personality” [National Post]
  • Here, have some shredded fairness: New Jersey lawmakers advance False Claims Act bill with retroactive provisions [NJLRA] Maryland False Claims Act, which I warned about last year, reintroduced as leading priority of new attorney general Brian Frosh [Maryland Reporter; my coverage here, here, etc.]
  • Oregon: a “man badly burned when he poured gasoline on a fire is suing Walmart, claiming the gas can he bought there was defective.” [KOIN]
  • Minnesota jury is latest to buy sudden-acceleration case, awards $11 million against Toyota [Reuters]
  • Insurers, trial lawyers gear up for Texas legislative fight over hailstorm litigation [Bloomberg/Insurance Journal]
  • Breaks ankle in “watch this” stunt, files negligence claim, but some spoilsport posted the footage to YouTube [U.K.: City of London police]

Medical roundup

  • King v. Burwell: next ObamaCare showdown at Supreme Court [Ilya Shapiro and Josh Blackman, David Bernstein on Cato brief, Adler v. Bagley Federalist video, Michael Greve with theory of Justice Kennedy riding off to Colorado with Dagny, earlier]
  • “J&J says women being illegally solicited to join in mesh lawsuits” [Jessica Dye/Reuters, same on lawyers’ response, more on which]
  • Invoking ACA, feds regulate non-profit hospitals to require periodic community needs assessment, limit collection methods [Treasury]
  • Unless judges are vigilant, lawyers will take advantage of mass tort joinder to evade CAFA limits on forum-shopping [Steven Boranian, Drug & Device Law]
  • Popular literature on IRBs/consent of research subjects can employ dubious definitions of “coercion” [Simon Whitney via Zachary Schrag]
  • Qui tam lawyers vs. pharmaceutical companies, some empirical findings [Bill of Health]
  • So that’s what “anatomical theatre” means: researcher checks into ostensible open-source medical journals and finds many “had suspicious addresses; one was actually inside a strip club.” [Fast Company on report finding that fake paper was accepted for publication by 17 journals]
  • A student of David Henderson’s recalls the state of medicine under the Soviets: assignment to providers based on place of residence; the role of gifts, favors, and clout; how idealistic doctors became cynics; the black market as a safety valve. [EconLog]

Don’t hold us to time limits for suing, the nation’s at war

Last year I wrote a piece for Jurist on the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act (WSLA). Now the False Claims Act case of Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Carter is before the Supreme Court, which heard oral argument on Tuesday. [transcript; Ronald Mann/SCOTUSBlog; WSJ editorial; Courthouse News; earlier here and here]