“Safeco ensures due process by not penalizing government contractors for innocent mistakes or mere negligence. It does so while accomplishing Congress’s goal of ensuring that companies do not bury their heads in the sand when submitting claims for reimbursement.”
—John Masslon, WLF Senior Litigation Counsel
Click here for WLF’s brief.
WASHINGTON, DC—Washington Legal Foundation (WLF) today filed an amicus curiae brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to protect defendants’ due-process rights in False Claims Act cases. Like every court of appeals to consider the issue, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in this FCA action applied the test for willfulness announced by the Supreme Court in Safeco. WLF’s brief urges the appeals court to affirm that decision.
The appeal arises from an employee’s qui tam lawsuit against his former employer—Allergan. The relator claims that Allergan “knowingly” submitted false claims because it did not combine rebates given to different companies when calculating a drug’s best price. The relator argues that Allergan’s omission constituted knowingly submitting false claims.
As WLF’s brief shows, applying the Safeco standard is necessary to protect defendants’ due-process rights. Because FCA violations carry both punitive civil sanctions and criminal penalties, even civil defendants are entitled to heightened due-process protections. At the core of these protections is the right to fair notice of prohibited conduct. The brief explains that Safeco ensures “due process by not penalizing” government contractors “for innocent mistakes or mere negligence. It does so while accomplishing Congress’s goal of ensuring that companies do not bury their heads in the sand when submitting claims for reimbursement.” WLF therefore urges the Fourth Circuit to promote due process of law by affirming the District Court’s decision.
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