As highlighted in a previous post, the $348 million judgment against the owners and operators of skilled nursing facilities in U.S. ex rel. Ruckh v. Genoa Healthcare, LLC, made serious waves in the FCA world. The judgment, which included a trebling of the jury’s damages verdict and fines of $5,500 for each of over 400 claims, far surpassed any settlement or judgment previously entered in a long-term care or skilled nursing case. However, on January 11, 2018, nearly a year after entering the landmark judgment, the Middle District of Florida overturned it. In doing so, the court reiterated some of the more stringent requirements a relator must meet in order to prevail on an FCA claim.
In a recent opinion, the Seventh Circuit joined its sister circuits in holding that under the FCA, a defendant’s conduct must proximately cause injury to the government in order to incur liability for that injury. United States v. Luce, No. 16-4093, 2017 WL 4768864 (7th Cir. Oct. 23, 2017). This decision resolves a circuit split that arose in 1992 when the Seventh Circuit parted company with the Third Circuit—the only other circuit at that time to have addressed the issue. At that time, the Seventh Circuit held that the FCA required only a “but-for” standard of causation, meaning that a defendant could be held liable under the FCA even if the Government’s loss was not caused directly by the defendant’s conduct so long as the government would not have suffered the loss if not for the defendant’s conduct. In addition to the Third Circuit, the other circuits that have since addressed this issue—the Fifth, D.C., and Tenth Circuits—have held that the higher standard of “proximate causation” applies to FCA cases.
Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Resolves Circuit Split on Causation in FCA Cases