TAF Education Fund Files Amicus in Escobar

The TAF Education Fund has filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the Respondents in Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States and Commonwealth of Massachusetts ex rel. Julio Escobar and Carmen Correa.

TAFEF had filed an earlier amicus, in support of the whistleblowers, in the First Circuit.

U.S. ex rel Escobar is slated for oral arguments on April 19th. All briefs available here.

In Escobar, the relators’ daughter, a teenage recipient of state medical benefits, consulted with mental health counselors at Arbour Counseling Services, which is owned and operated by Universal Health Services, to seek treatment for behavioral problems. After the daughter died of a seizure, it was discovered the counselors who treated her were not licensed by the state to provide mental health therapy, as required by Massachusetts regulations. The relators filed suit, under the False Claims Act, in the District Court for Massachusetts.

In TAFEF’s brief, we argue that:

  1. “Implied certification’ reflects the bedrock principle that government contractors who seek payment in knowing violation of material terms of their bargain violate the FCA;

  2. The plain language of the statute, aligned with its history and purpose, supports the basic tenets of “implied certification”;

  3. A natural reading of “false or fraudulent” supports application of the “implied certification” theory;

  4. “Implied certification” is only a label, preserving long-standing FCA principles;

  5. An “express condition” of payment requirement is not supported by the statute;

  6. Materiality provides the necessary nexus between the conduct and the resulting claim;

  7. Petitioner inappropriately urges an extrastatutory limitation to curb relator-driven cases.

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