TAF Amicus Brief Details the Dangerous Consequences of Wrongly Interpreting False Claims Act & Allowing Nonsensical Lower Court Ruling to Stand that Would Hamper Enforcement
WASHINGTON – Taxpayers Against Fraud (TAF) on February 24, 2023 filed an amicus brief regarding the ongoing SuperValu case urging the Supreme Court to overrule a wrongly decided Seventh Circuit Court opinion counter to decades of well-established public understanding and congressional intent of the federal False Claims Act (FCA).
In a three-part argument, TAF argues 1) the FCA’s plain language allows for consideration of a defendant’s subjective knowledge; 2) the scope of relevant guidance in FCA cases should be a context-specific question that considers how the United States and its contractors iron out potential legal uncertainties; and 3) explains the practical consequences of the Seventh Circuit’s rule, which would allow government contractors to avoid liability for knowing fraud through manufactured ambiguity, free from any duty to clarify that ambiguity and confident that they can later hire attorneys to shield themselves.
“The FCA is the government’s primary civil anti-fraud tool, and it has been wildly successful, with more than $72 billion recovered on behalf of taxpayers since the statute was revamped in 1986,” the amicus brief states. “The Seventh Circuit’s rule threatens this success by giving defendants with subjective knowledge of their own wrongdoing a get-out-of-liability-free card, which they or their lawyers can play at any time. If adopted by this Court, the rule would not only rewrite the FCA’s knowledge standard, but would also severely hamstring the United States’ ability to protect taxpayer dollars from fraud. The Court should reverse and reaffirm the FCA’s text, which acknowledges that a defendant’s contemporaneous subjective knowledge matters. In addition, the Court should reject the Seventh Circuit’s narrow view of interpretative guidance and hold that relevant guidance in FCA cases is a context-specific factual question.”
A prior May 2022 amicus brief from Taxpayers Against Fraud can be found here.
Recently, attorneys for Sen. Chuck Grassley, the author legislation that strengthened the False Claims Act, wrote an op-ed for Fortune, detailing the case.
Taxpayers Against Fraud is a nonprofit public interest organization dedicated to combating fraud against the government and protecting public resources through public-private partnerships. TAF is committed to preserving effective anti-fraud legislation at the federal and state levels. The organization has worked to publicize the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act (“FCA”), regularly participates in litigation as amicus curiae, and has provided testimony to Congress about ways to improve the FCA. TAF is sup-ported by whistleblowers and their counsel, by membership dues and fees, and by private donations. TAF is the 501(c)(3) arm of Taxpayers Against Fraud The False Claims Act Legal Center, which was founded in 1986.
For more information on this topic, please contact James King at [email protected].