On August 12, 2021, the Seventh Circuit adopted the position taken by every court of appeals to consider the issue and held that the test for willfulness announced by the Supreme Court in Safeco applies in False Claims Act actions. The decision was a victory for WLF, which filed an amicus brief urging the Seventh Circuit to affirm the District Court’s ruling. WLF explained that applying Safeco in FCA cases provides the necessary due-process protections while advancing Congress’s goal of ensuring companies do not bury their heads in the sand. Moving forward, companies can rest assured that they won’t face treble damages under the FCA for mere negligent conduct.
Note: The U.S. Supreme Court granted Schutte’s certiorari petition on January 13, 2023 for argument during its ongoing October Term 2022. The Court also granted review in U.S. ex rel. Proctor v. Safeway, Inc., and combined the two cases for argument. WLF will file an amicus brief in support of the Respondents in the combined case.