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A violation of the False Claims Act's (FCA) first‐to‐file bar cannot be remedied by amending or supplementing the complaint. Relator filed a qui tam action against Allergan, alleging that the pharmaceutical company violated the FCA through a kickback scheme. The Second Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions for the district court to dismiss relator's Third Amended Complaint without prejudice. In this case, relator was not the first relator to sue Allergan under the FCA based on the alleged kickback scheme. View "United States ex rel. Wood v. Allergan, Inc." on Justia Law

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Former employees of the Foundation filed suit under the False Claims Act, alleging that the incentives offered to employees and patients were unlawful kickbacks that rendered false any claims for federal reimbursement. The district court dismissed all but two claims, and later granted summary judgment on the remaining claims. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed and held that the employee exemption to the Anti-Kickback Statute applied to payments that the Foundation made to an employee tasked with referring HIV-positive patients to healthcare services offered by the Foundation. The court also held that the district court correctly dismissed relators' other claims for lack of particularity and that relators waived their argument about amendment. View "Carrel v. AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Inc." on Justia Law

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CGI Technologies and Solutions, Inc. ("CGI"), and Clinton Carter, in his capacity as Director of the Alabama Department of Finance, separately petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Montgomery Circuit Court to dismiss, for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, an action filed by Jim Zeigler challenging a contract between CGI and the State of Alabama on the basis that the contract violated Alabama's competitive-bid law. In 1982, the State of Alabama, through the Department of Finance, entered into a software contract with American Management Systems, Inc. ("AMS"), that granted the State a license to install a local-government finance-system package on computers in the Finance Department. There was no dispute that the 1982 contract was competitively bid. In 2004, AMS was acquired by CGI. Over subsequent years, the 1982 contract was amended; Amendment 13 became known as the State of Alabama Accounting Resources System ("STAARS"). The State and CGI entered into four amendments addressing STAARS between March 2014 and September 2015. On March 31, 2017, the State and CGI entered into a letter agreement memorializing an understanding "relative to concluding work" on STAARS. The letter agreement noted that "CGI acknowledges the State's intent to begin transition to an in-house delivery plan or to award a new contract for operational services and support for STAARS within 90 days of the date of this letter, after which, CGI will provide Disengagement Services." Also, the letter agreement recognized a "winding down" of the contractual relationship between CGI and the State, which was to conclude by September 30, 2017. Other than the "winding-down period," the State agreed that "CGI has satisfied its contractual obligations with respect to the STAARS project and software and services provided by CGI under the STAARS Contract." The State contracted for further services from CGI after October 1, 2017, but not extending beyond November 29, 2017. According to Zeigler, in December 2015 he first learned that the amendments authorizing and implementing STAARS had not been competitively bid. CGI filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint, arguing Zeigler lacked standing to bring this suit, and his statutory authority for his cause of action only allowed as remedy enjoining the contract that violated the competitive-bid law. The circuit court dismissed all but count one of Zeigler's complaint, leading to this request for mandamus relief. Because performance under the 1982 contract, including the STAARS amendments, was complete. the Alabama Supreme Court found there was no performance to enjoin, and no further remedy available to Zeigler for the alleged violation of the Competitive Bid Law. Therefore, the Court agreed with petitioners that Zeigler's claims were moot, and granted the writs. View "Ex parte Carter, in his capacity as Director of Finance for the State of Alabama." on Justia Law

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Specialty Asphalt & Construction, LLC and its majority owner, Lisa Jacobsen (Specialty), brought suit against Lincoln County, Washington (County) for gender discrimination, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract arising out of the County's bidding and contracting process for a paving project. Specialty lost all three claims it brought at the trial court. The Court of Appeals affirmed, and Specialty petitioned for review by the Washington Supreme Court. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The Court affirmed with respect to the appellate court's holding that an injunction was the exclusive remedy for Specialty's contract claim. The Court reversed with respect to the gender discrimination and negligent misrepresentation claims: Some elements of Specialty's evidence, standing alone, might not create a reasonable inference of discrimination, but when viewed together, the inference of discrimination "becomes quite strong;" Specialty also provided evidence of its recoverable reliance damages to defeat summary judgment on its negligent misrepresentation claim. View "Specialty Asphalt & Constr., LLC v. Lincoln County" on Justia Law

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Berkowitz's company, Complete Packaging, holds a General Service Administration (GSA) multiple award schedule contract, under which it sells office supplies to government agencies. The defendants hold competing GSA schedule contract. Vendors with GSA schedule contracts must comply with the Trade Agreements Act (TAA), 19 U.S.C. 501, which requires that a vendor only offer and sell U.S.-made or other designated country end products to governmental agencies. Federal Acquisition Regulations identify the designated countries and require that a vendor’s GSA agreement contain a “Trade Agreements Certificate,” certifying that each end product is compliant and listing the other products that are not. Vendors with GSA schedule contracts upload their price lists to the GSA Advantage online portal, GSA’s shopping system. Berkowitz claims that other vendors offered and sold products from non-designated countries, such as China or Thailand, although they filed Trade Agreements Certificate and that any invoices they submitted to the government for TAA noncompliant products constitute material false statements under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3730. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of his FCA suit. Berkowitz cannot allege that the defendants made any express misrepresentations; his claims are premised on an implied false certification theory and do not allege specific facts demonstrating what occurred at the individualized transactional level. That defendants may have sold non-compliant products in violation of the TAA does not equate to making a knowingly false statement in order to receive money from the government. View "Berkowitz v. Automation Aids, Inc." on Justia Law

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From 1996-2011 Pennsylvania claimed the costs of a training program, the Pennsylvania Restraint Reduction Initiative, “to train long-term care facility staff in the use of alternative measures to physical and chemical restraints,” as administrative costs under its Medicaid program, 42 U.S.C. 1396b(a)(7) . The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursed Pennsylvania for about $3 million. After an audit, CMS sought a return of the money on the ground that funds spent on training programs are not reimbursable as administrative costs under Medicaid. CMS relied heavily on a 1994 State Medicaid Director Letter. The Appeals Board, district court, and Third Circuit rejected the state’s arguments that the 1994 Letter was an invalid substantive rule, that the Letter’s text does not exclude the training costs from reimbursement, that the Letter imposed an ambiguous condition on a federal grant, that the Appeals Board abused its discretion in denying discovery, that the HHS Grants Administration Manual limits the disallowance period to three years, and that the district court should have taken judicial notice of the 2015 CMS Question and Answer document concerning training costs. The court noted CMS could have reimbursed Pennsylvania if Pennsylvania factored the amount into its rate-setting scheme instead of claiming it as administrative costs. View "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Human Services v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former government contractor with security clearance, filed suit raising numerous constitutional and security claims after his security clearance was revoked. The district court dismissed 23 counts, partially dismissed Count 21 and granted summary judgment to the government on the remainder of that count, and ordered plaintiff to file a more definite statement about the other six counts (Counts 23-27 and 29). The district court later granted summary judgment for the government as to those six counts. As to the frivolous constitutional claims, they were barred by Department of Navy v. Egan, 484 U.S. 518 (1988). As to the Privacy Act claims, the court affirmed the dismissal of the claims because they failed on the merits. As to the Due Process Claims under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), they were properly dismissed because the officials were entitled to qualified immunity. As to challenges to the DOHA proceeding, the court assumed without deciding that plaintiff had a cognizable liberty interest but that his claim was not viable. As to claims of illegal search and claims under the Store Communications Act, the district court correctly dismissed these counts for failure to state a claim. Finally, as to claims of unlawful interrogation, the district court properly concluded that plaintiff failed to establish personal jurisdiction of the defendants. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Palmieri v. United States" on Justia Law

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In holding that the successor judge in this case had authority to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims for breach of contract and consequential damages and committed no reversible error by doing so, the Supreme Court repudiated any language in its precedent that suggests that a successor judge on a case is bound by nonfinal decisions and rulings made by his predecessor. Plaintiff, who was hired by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to work on different construction projects, filed various claims against UDOT and other contractors on the projects. UDOT moved for summary judgment on claims for breach of contract on the “Arcadia” project and claims seeking consequential damages. Judge Kennedy, the original judge assigned to the case, denied both motions. Judge Kennedy was then replaced in this case by Judge Harris. Judge Harris ultimately dismissed Plaintiff’s claims for breach of contract and consequential damages. Plaintiff filed this interlocutory appeal, arguing that Judge Harris violated the so-called coordinate judge rule, which Plaintiff alleged limits the discretion of a successor judge to revisit decisions of a predecessor. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) a successor judge has the same power to review nonfatal decisions that a predecessor would have had; and (2) Judge Harris did not commit reversible error by dismissing the claims at issue. View "Build v. Utah Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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In 1942-1943, the Government contracted with the Oil Companies to purchase aviation gasoline, vital to the war effort, permitting a profit margin “between 6% and 7%.” The manufacture of avgas from crude oil uses a 98% purity sulfuric acid as a catalyst in alkylation, a process that dilutes the sulfuric acid such that it turns it into “spent alkylation acid,” which may be used to catalyze the alkylation process again following purification; produce non-avgas petroleum by-products; or be disposed of. If spent alkylation acid is used to produce other petroleum by-products, it becomes "acidic sludge," a secondary waste with a lesser percentage of acid content that can be used to manufacture fertilizer, burned, or disposed of. Unable to reprocess the increased amount of spent alkylation acid given the prioritization of production, the Companies dumped spent alkylation acid and acid sludge in California: 12 percent of the waste was spent alkylation acid, and 82.5% was acid sludge. In 1991, the Government and California sued the Companies under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. 9601, for costs of cleaning up the disposal site. The Companies countersued. After years of litigation, the Claims Court granted the Companies partial summary judgment to prevent discovery into insurance settlements; denied the Government’s motion for leave to assert counterclaims in fraud; held that the Government was liable for clean-up costs for nonbenzol waste--$99,509,847.32, including accrued interest. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the Claims Court failed to allocate between recoverable and nonrecoverable costs, wrongfully admitted stipulations to calculate damages, and wrongly refused to allow proof of double recovery by insurance settlements. View "Shell Oil Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Relator claimed (False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733) that C&D manufactured and shipped 349 defective batteries to the U.S. government for use in intercontinental ballistic missile launch controls. The matter settled for $1.7 million, about six percent of the amount demanded in a Second Amended Complaint, entitling Relator to reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. The parties were unable to agree on attorneys’ fees. The district court concluded that both parties’ counsel were uncooperative and did not act in good faith. Relator eventually increased his fee demand to $3,278,115.99, “almost $1 million more than the fees [he] sought a year ago and almost twice the dollar amount of the settlement [he] reached.” Relator used hourly rates that he “extrapolated” from actual Community Legal Services rates, which were higher than those that he originally used to calculate his demand. The court reduced Relator’s recoverable attorney hours for depositions, document review, summary judgment motions, a motion for reconsideration, Daubert motions, and travel time expenses, and applied a 10 percent reduction for lack of success on the merits. The parties agreed that for the purposes of the fee award, the court could use $1,794,427.27 for fees and $164,585.49 for costs. The Third Circuit remanded for consideration of “fees on fees” but otherwise affirmed. View "Palmer v. C & D Technologies, Inc" on Justia Law