Last Friday’s standing-room only hearing before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission was among the most dramatic I’ve witnessed. There was outrage – outrage not just from me as I declared the State Department “AWOL” in our quest to free an American Pastor, Saeed Abedini — a U.S. citizen — captured by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard […]
We’re moving forward with our aggressive strategy against Planned Parenthood (PP) in what can only be described as a massive fraud case involving the PP affiliates of California.
You may recall that we achieved a major victory in 2010 when a federal appeals court reinstated a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood after a lower court dismissed it.
At the heart of the issue: an alleged scheme to overbill both federal and state governments to the tune of tens of millions of dollars – all at the expense of taxpayers.
We represent a whistleblower, the former Chief Financial Officer of PP’s Los Angeles affiliate, who discovered a statewide scheme of PP affiliates dramatically marking up claims for taxpayer reimbursement. The complaint charges PP with bilking the state and federal governments of some $100 million.
The federal False Claims Act (FCA) forbids government contractors from submitting false or fraudulent claims for payment. The FCA also authorizes private individuals to bring suit against the offenders to recover the fraudulently obtained funds.
A large, private law firm is defending PP and has thrown up a series of roadblocks to the case. Our legal team has been busy plowing through them.
PP originally asked that the entire case be dismissed on jurisdictional grounds. The district court did so back in November of 2008, and that’s when we entered the case to handle the appeal. As I reported, we got the case back on track when a federal appeals court reinstated the suit, which is currently being litigated in federal district court in Los Angeles.
To say there’s been a series of legal twists and turns along the way is an understatement.
PP filed an answer to the complaint but then moved for judgment in its favor on a variety of new grounds. In April 2011, the district court agreed to throw out the claims under state law, but rejected PP’s main challenge to the federal FCA part of the suit. However, the court said that the whistleblower, our client, had to provide more detail about the alleged fraud in the complaint. Our attorneys prepared and filed an amended version of the complaint on in May.
At that point, PP filed another motion, this time asking for judgment in its favor in part and requesting that the judge strike part of the new complaint. Our attorneys have just filed a legal memorandum with the court opposing PP’s latest motion. The matter is set for a hearing on August 22, 2011.
PP has a lot at stake and is not about to roll over. A whistleblower could not possibly fight and win a case like this without major legal assistance. This is a very complicated, time-consuming case that requires legal expertise and strategic sophistication.
The bottom line is this: We know that this will continue to be a lengthy legal battle, and we remain committed to pursuing Planned Parenthood in this case.
I will keep you posted as developments unfold.