As 2020 draws to a close, we take a look back at a number of the most significant False Claims Act (FCA) cases of the prior 12 months. Although no blockbuster cases emerged, such as the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Escobar, there were a number of noteworthy cases that will have lasting impact on future FCA litigation. We discuss those cases briefly below. We expect to cover these cases and much more in our Healthcare Fraud and Abuse Review, which we will release in early 2021.
U.S. ex rel. Janssen v. Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 949 F.3d 533 (10th Cir. 2020)
Background. In 2016, the Supreme Court held in Escobar that whether a defendant can be held liable under the FCA for violating a statute, rule, regulation, or contract provision turns, in part, on the elements of materiality and scienter, which the Court said are “rigorous” and “demanding.” Post-Escobar, courts have grappled with specific applications of these standards, with some courts appearing to apply them less “rigorously” than others.
Allegations. In U.S. ex rel. Janssen v. Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the relator primarily alleged that the defendant hospital falsified patient arrival times associated with certain CMS pay-for-reporting and pay-for-performance programs. The relator introduced proof that the hospital had knowingly falsified arrival times in patient records by recording actual arrival times on patient triage sheets but then entering later times in the medical record or delaying patient registration until after the administration of some tests.