The Fourth Circuit, in United States ex rel. Sheldon v. Allergan Sales, LLC, No. 20-2330, 2022 WL 211172 (4th Cir. Jan. 25, 2022) recently upheld the dismissal of False Claims Act (“FCA”) lawsuit brought by a quit tam relator (“Relator”) against his employer, Forest Laboratories, LLC (“Forest”) alleging that Forest engaged in a fraudulent price reporting scheme under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Statute (“Rebate Statute”).[1]

Notably, the Fourth Circuit adopted the US Supreme Court’s decision in Safeco Ins. Co. of Am. v. Burr, 551 U.S. 47 (2007) in holding that the scienter element of the FCA is subject to an “objective reasonableness” standard, where a defendant can defeat FCA liability by establishing that its interpretation of the applicable statute or regulation was objectively reasonable and that no authoritative guidance from a court or agency could have “warned defendant away” from that interpretation. Just last year, the Seventh Circuit adopted this standard in U.S. ex rel. Schutte v. SuperValu Inc., joining the Third, Eighth, Ninth, and DC Circuits in holding the same.

At issue in Sheldon was the reasonableness of Forest’s interpretation of the Rebate Statute in determining how it calculated certain discounts given to separate customers for purpose of reporting its “best price” to the government. The District Court dismissed the complaint on the basis that Forest’s reading of the Rebate Statute was “objectively reasonable,” there was no authoritative guidance to the contrary, and thus Forest did not act “knowingly” under the FCA. The Fourth Circuit affirmed.[2]
Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Adopts Objective Reasonableness Standard in Determining Scienter Element of the False Claims Act

Since the dawn of the historic COVID-19 relief packages, which have doled out approximately $2.6 trillion to date (with more to be spent), the federal government has made no secret of the fact that it intends to ferret out and prosecute any wrongdoing involving those funds. In addition to misappropriation of relief funds, the government has also gone after those attempting to capitalize on the COVID-19 pandemic by defrauding consumers and the government alike. A number of violators have already been uncovered and prosecuted. And the government continues to ramp up its efforts and stay true to its word.
Continue Reading More Enforcement is on the Way: The COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force

Potential Outcomes and Implications for the False Claims Act

On March 19, 2019, Seyfarth’s Anthony LaPlaca and Teddie Arnold witnessed oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court in a government contracts case that has major implications for future enforcement of the federal False Claims Act (FCA).[1] In Cochise Consultancy, the Court is asked to interpret the FCA’s statutes of limitations, which govern the time frame in which the government may initiate a civil false claim suit against a contractor.[2] While the Court will likely consider the case for several months before it issues any decision, the questions posed at oral argument seem to hint at how it will ultimately decide the issue.
Continue Reading The Supreme Court Holds Argument in Cochise Consultancy