The Blog of the Legal Times has an excellent post on today’s arguments before the United States Supreme Court in the pivotal case of Allison Engine Company v. United States ex rel Thacker.
The article can be found at: http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/895477/26549968
Why is Allison Engine a pivotal case? A fundamental element of a false claims act case is a false claim, also known as a “call on the public fisc.” In other words, someone needs to have made a claim to the United States somewhere along the line.
The issue in Allison Engine is whether a false bill presented to someone other than the government constitutes a call on the public fisc if that false bill or false claim will ultimately be submitted to the United States. This is common in the world of construction and defense contracting, where numerous subcontractors submit their claims not to the United States but rather to a higher-tier contractor.
The Federal False Claims Act–like the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act–creates civil penalties, treble damages, mandatory attorney’s fees, and other categories of damages against anyone who submits a false claim for payment or who causes a false claim for payment to be submitted.
While a detailed discussion of this particular area of qui tam litigation is beyond the scope of today’s post, look for more important news on this in the future.