Posts Tagged ‘qui tam’

Liability roundup

  • Recent easing of lawsuit crisis in U.S. owes much to rise of arbitration. Now organized litigation lobby is intent on taking that down, and Obama administration has helped with steps in labor law, consumer finance, and nursing-home care [James Copland, Manhattan Institute, related op-ed]
  • SCOTUS should grant certiorari to clarify lawyers’ obligation to clients in class settlement, argues Lester Brickman [amicus brief courtesy SCOTUSBlog; earlier on Blackman v. Gascho]
  • St. Louis, California, NYC asbestos litigation, south Florida and the Florida Supreme Court, and New Jersey are top five “winners” in latest annual “Judicial Hellholes” report, which also includes a focus on qui tam/whistleblower suits [American Tort Reform Association, report and executive summary]
  • Deep pocket lawsuits remain systemic problem in America for political branches to address [David Freddoso, Washington Examiner investigation]
  • Florida insurers struggle with secondhand suits under assignment of benefits doctrine [Insurance Journal]
  • Storm lawsuits in Texas: “All Hail Breaks Loose” [Mark Pulliam, City Journal]

Higher education roundup

  • Colleagues demand Oregon law prof resign over Hallowe’en costume [Paul Caron/TaxProf; Eugene Volokh (“We have reached a bad and dangerous place in American life, and in American university life in particular.”)] Title IX and expression: “What the feds have done to colleges and schools” [Hans Bader, Minding the Campus]
  • Institutional review boards (IRBs) “as a rule are incredibly difficult to study…. There is no public record of their decision or deliberations, they don’t, as a rule, invite scrutiny or allow themselves to be observed.” [Dr. Steven Joffe quoted by Tyler Cowen]
  • “An emphasis on intersectionality”: mandatory diversity course for first-years at AU now has course description [earlier] “U-M’s New ‘Chief Diversity Officer’ Will Collect $385,000 per Year” [Derek Draplin, Michigan Capitol Confidential]
  • “Plaintiffs’ Bar Steps Up Profitable False Claims Act Assault on Higher Education” [U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform]
  • Notwithstanding initial wave of critical coverage, Will Creeley says PEN report on campus speech is actually pretty good [FIRE] “Student group at Cal State Northridge boasts of ‘shutting down’ speech by award-winning scholar” [Volokh; Armenian students vs. Ataturk lecture]
  • On question whether universities must treat student athletes as employees, NLRB “may be battling for field position” with future ruling in mind [Brennan Bolt, McGuire Woods]

Crime and punishment roundup

  • Quebec waiter arrested after seafood puts allergic customer in coma [CBC]
  • Two Black Lives Matter groupings have issued agendas, one zany leftism, the other directed at nuts-and-bolts criminal justice system reform. Media: “Door 1, please.” [Ed Krayewski]
  • Conservative lawprof Mike Rappaport on DEA’s “absurd,” “ridiculous” refusal to take marijuana off Schedule I [Law and Liberty] Recommended: Scott Greenfield and David Meyer-Lindenberg interview Julie Stewart of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Cato Institute alum [Fault Lines]
  • “Criminal defense bar sides with business lobby in False Claims Act case” [Alison Frankel, Reuters on State Farm case before Supreme Court]
  • 6th Circuit: amendments to Michigan sex offender registry law impose retroactive, hence unconstitutional, punishment [Jonathan Adler, Scott Greenfield]
  • “Criminalizing Entrepreneurs: The regulatory state is also a prison state” [F.H. Buckley, American Conservative]

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]