Constantine Cannon Whistleblower Attorneys File Brief to Supreme Court on Behalf of Senator Grassley
Constantine Cannon whistleblower attorneys were proud to represent long-time champion of the False Claims Act (FCA) Senator Charles Grassley in filing an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court. In the brief, available here, Senator Grassley urges the Court to repair a worrying trend among certain courts that is undermining the statute.
Specifically, the brief describes how the Seventh Circuit’s decision in United States ex rel. Schutte v. SuperValu Inc. tortures the text of the FCA, which Senator Grassley helped draft. The opinion collapses three distinct ways of finding a defendant liable for its conduct into a single, narrow route, and then erects new barriers on that route. As the brief explains, Supervalu
held that a defendant who correctly knows an act is unlawful is immunized from FCA liability if its lawyer, years later, can cook up an interpretation of the law under which the act was arguably permissible—even if that interpretation is wrong and the defendant did not have that interpretation at the time. That test makes a hash of the law of fraud, which focuses on what a defendant understood at the time it undertook a fraudulent act.
If left in place, the decision could have far-reaching consequences, effectively letting defendants off the hook because they can hire cagey lawyers. And as Senator Grassley noted in a press release:
If the False Claims Act is weakened, taxpayers are ultimately the ones who pay the price. That’s why I’m strongly advocating for the Supreme Court to uphold the government’s most useful and effective fraud-fighting tool – a tool that has helped save taxpayers $70 billion since I pushed to strengthen it.
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