Bradley Arant partner Brad Robertson was quoted in Legal Newsline regarding a $2.3 billion mortgage fraud case against US Bank. In Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) v. U.S. Bank, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the False Claims Act lawsuit because the conduct alleged had previously been publicly disclosed.
“The False Claims Act allows for private individuals known as ‘relators’ to bring action and enforce the statute on the government’s behalf, but there are restrictions on the claims that relators may bring,” said Robertson. “To avoid opportunistic lawsuits, the statute restricts claims based on matters that have already been publicly disclosed.”
According to ABLE, there was no prior public disclosure before the lawsuit was filed. However, in order to pursue the case, ABLE attempted to proceed with the FCA claim by stating that it was an “original source” of the information.
One way to be an “original source” [and bypass the public disclosure bar] is to have information that “materially adds to” the publicly disclosed information, Robertson explained.
“The relator here attempted to be an original source by providing information about three specific instances of alleged compliance failures, but the court did not agree that the specific examples added anything to the general information that had already been publicly disclosed,” said Robertson. “The Sixth Circuit’s opinion implicitly acknowledges that these efforts in transparency should not provide fodder for plaintiffs to bring False Claims Act lawsuits against them for treble damages and statutory penalties.”
The complete article, “Sixth Circuit says relator added nothing to U.S. Bank case, dismisses $2.3B case,” first appeared in Legal Newsline on April 5, 2016.