0

GBB files amicus on behalf of law professors in FCA case before Supreme Court

Congress intended the False Claims Act to apply broadly and reach all fraudulent attempts to cause the United States Government to pay out money. In Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, a key case pending before the United States Supreme Court, the Petitioner has urged a counter-textual interpretation that would vitiate the False Claims Act and compromise Congress’ intent.  On behalf of a distinguished group of law professors, Guttman, Buschner & Brooks PLLC has filed an amicus brief in the matter.

The amicus brief proposes a comprehensive model, the application of which will ensure the Act continues to effectuate Congress’ intent.  As the brief explains, the starting point for determining whether conduct is fraudulent and should be captured by the Act begins by looking to principles of common law fraud. However, Congress expanded upon the liability available under the False Claims Act, specifically by eliminating traditional reliance and scienter requirements of common law. Application of the Act’s statutory provisions expanding liability, coupled with use of limiting principles of materiality – routinely applied to other fraud statutes to ensure minor violations are not cognizable – balances concerns of the Act’s over-expansion with its stated purpose to broadly reach all fraudulent or deceitful acts that cause the Government to pay out money.

The full amicus brief is available here: Universal Health Services Inc v US and Massachusetts, ex rel Escobar and Correa – Brief of Law Professors as Amici.

Doctors promoting treatments on social media routinely fail to disclose ties to drug makers

by Sheila Kaplan (Statnews.com)

Washington – Physicians across the United States routinely offer medical advice on social media — but often fail to mention that they have accepted tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars from the companies that make the prescription drugs they tout.

A STAT examination of hundreds of social media accounts shows that health care professionals virtually never note their conflicts of interest, some of them significant, when promoting drugs or medical devices on sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The practice cuts across all specialties.

. . .

But Reuben Guttman, an attorney in Washington who specializes in food and drug law, said the system leaves patients vulnerable to misinformation.

“Doctors who accept these dollars and then turn around and promote on social media corrupt the market for honest medical information,” Guttman said. “And drug companies that pay these doctors are similarly poisoning the market for honest information.”

Read the full article at statnews.com.

A Failure of Remedies: The Case of Big Pharma (An Essay)

By Paul J. Zwier and Reuben Guttman
Emory Corporate Governance and Accountability Review
Emory Law

This article examines the U.S. pharmaceutical industry and the harms imposed on individual patients and healthcare consumers—including private and government third party payers—from practices proscribed by Federal and State laws regulating marketing and pricing.

The article pays particular attention to the False Claims Act (FCA), which has become the government’s primary civil weapon against fraudulent and/or wrongful conduct causing the expenditure of government dollars.
Read the entire Essay at http://law.emory.edu/ecgar/content/volume-3/issue-2/essays/failure-remedies-case-big-pharma.html

0

LEADING: Partner Traci Buschner to moderate Ethics panel at the FBA Qui Tam Conference.

At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint occaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. Et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. Nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio cumque nihil impedit quo minus id quod maxime placeat facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae.

Read More

The Art of Advocacy

Judges are now insisting that plaintiffs make their case with facts instead of merely putting their clients on notice of a claim.

When the United States Supreme Court issued its decisions in Bell Atlantic Corp v Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Aschroft v Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662 (2009), there was sea change in the standard by which judges evaluated lawsuits to determine their sufficiency to withstand a motion to dismiss.  Rather than merely placing a defendant on notice of a claim, the Court established a new standard.  Plaintiffs must allege facts allowing a court to find that a claim is plausible.  In reviewing the allegations of the complaint, courts are challenged to weed out conclusory statements and base their analysis on only the factual pleadings of the Complaint.

Naturally, Iqbal and Twombly have raised serious access to justice issues for plaintiffs who must muster the facts without an opportunity to gather evidence through discovery.  The “plausibility” standard is of course entirely subjective; what is plausible to one judge based on his or her life’s journeys may not be plausible to another.  And with the challenge to plead facts, plaintiffs are undoubtedly encouraged to put the “kitchen sink” into their complaints and plead complaints that are exponentially larger than those of yesteryear.

With all of the problems caused by Iqbal and Twombly, there is a nugget of gold that can be snatched as a teaching lesson.  The notion that litigants are instructed to make their cases based on facts and not conclusions or hyperbole, is a solid concept.

The question of what is a fact and what is a conclusion is of course a lesson that lawyers must understand.  In one of my classes at Emory Law School, I asked the students to outline the good facts and bad facts for a case involving assault and robbery. A student raised his hand noting that a good fact for the Defendant is “he has an alibi.”  I turned to the student and said, “Are you telling me a fact or are you giving me a conclusion?”  The student looked at me.  I said, “unpack what you just told me in terms of the evidence, or facts, that support the alibi.” The student then began to tell me about a witness who saw the defendant at a theater performance at the time of the alleged incident; theater tickets found in the defendant’s wallet; and a receipt from a theater vendor which had the time and date stamp on it.  Of course these are three very powerful facts – often hard to dispute – which are more compelling than merely stating the conclusion that an alibi exists.

In two weeks, I will again be teaching second year students trial advocacy at Emory Law School.  It is hard to explain the difference between facts and conclusions but I give them this example which, in past years, they seem to remember.

Several years ago, a seven year old girl who is the daughter of a trial lawyer, said to her father: “I hate my little brother, no one likes him, he is extremely difficult and we need to trade him in for a new brother.”  The father said, “Sweetie, haven’t I told you to make your arguments with facts and not conclusions or hyperbole?”  The daughter said, “Yes, I remember Daddy; I will start over. Here is a photo of your BMW and the can of spray paint used to redecorate it.  Here is a photo of our dog Spot tied up in your Versace Neck Ties and I have here a photo of your 80 inch Samsung TV set and the baseball that went through the screen; I also have here an essay the little fellow wrote for school which discusses his contemporary art projects. Finally, Daddy, here is a study by a prominent Harvard Psychologist who says that parents do well to act early and trade in ill-behaved children.” The father responded: “I understand.  Say no more.  The little fellow is history.”

1 7 8 9 10 11 30