By Jason Enzler
Late last week, Circuit Judge Robert Wilkins (sitting by designation at the D.C. District Court) gave the government and whistleblower Floyd Landis a green light to proceed with their False Claims Act lawsuit against famed cyclist Lance Armstrong and others. At stake is over $100 million in claimed damages and penalties for an alleged doping scheme involving the U.S. cycling team.
Landis, a former teammate of Armstrong’s, filed his qui tam complaint in 2010, alleging several claims that Armstrong and others had defrauded the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) by taking sponsorship money from the USPS while participating in a doping scheme. The Department of Justice (DOJ) followed with its own complaint in April 2013, lodging similar allegations and claims against many of the same defendants. The defendants moved to dismiss the vast majority of the claims against them based on several different theories, including on jurisdictional, procedural, and merits grounds.
Given the number of parties, legal claims, and defenses raised, it is not surprising that Judge Wilkins’ opinion parsing through these details was 81 pages. This breadth makes it worth reading for any False Claims Act attorney because it addresses so many arguments, from statute of limitations issues, to the effect of the 2009 amendments on the False Claims Act, to waiver of pleading requirements. But while some claims were dismissed or narrowed against this defendant or that, the primary takeaway is that the case can go forward against all but one of the corporate defendants (and the successor corporation to that dismissed defendant is still on the line as a defendant in the case).
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