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Qui Tam 2020 is the third annual conference of the Federal Bar Association's Qui Tam Section, for which TELG's Scott Oswald serves as chair. The two-day event will tackle some of the hottest topics in False Claims Act litigation, with panels featuring attorneys from both sides of the aisle, along with government prosecutors, agency representatives, and subject-matter experts.
Here Scott discusses the "Year in Review" in False Claims Act litigation with John R. Thomas, Jr. of Hafemann Magee Thomas, who'll moderate a panel on the topic on Day One of the conference.
This video interview by TELG managing principal R. Scott Oswald was published by The Employment Law Group, P.C. on February 17, 2020.
“Qui Tam 2020” Panel Preview: False Claims Act “Year in Review”
» Click here for registration and full details on Qui Tam 2020
(Transcribed and edited lightly by The Employment Law Group)
R. Scott Oswald: [Addressing camera] Our first panel at this year’s Qui Tam Conference on February 27-28, 2020 is the “Year in Review” — and moderating the panel is John Thomas, who is with us today.
[Turning to Thomas] John, you have started a new firm, right, in Roanoke? Tell us a little bit about the firm.
John R. Thomas, Jr.: Absolutely. Yeah, I’ve joined up with a couple of Marines that I served with, John Hafemann and Brian Magee. Our firm is Hafemann, Magee and Thomas. John and Brian are in Savannah, Ga., and I’m in Roanoke, Va., and we focus on — I focus on qui tam. We also do some federal criminal litigation, federal civil litigation. So it’s been fun.
Oswald: Terrific. Tell us a little about the panel. It’s our first panel, Year in Review, on the first day of the annual conference. If I’m in the audience, what can I expect?
Thomas: Well, this is, I guess, the third year we’ve done the Year in Review panel. I think what we’ve tried to do is provide a panel at the very start of the day, when we can look at the past year in a broad, big-picture way. A lot of the [later] panels will obviously drill into some specific areas with a lot of detail, but I think there’s value — particularly as we get started for the day — to really look at what are some of the broader patterns that we can see in qui tam practice over the past year.
Oswald: And who do we have on the panel?
Thomas: This year we’re very fortunate to have two returning panel members: We have Claire Sylvia and Stuart Delery, both of whom obviously need no introduction. Claire authors probably one of the most important treatises out there. She’s with Phillips & Cohen. Stuart Delery obviously served as associate attorney general under President Obama.
We’re also very excited to have Tejinder Singh join us this year as well. He focuses on appellate practice within the False Claims Act, and he was on another panel last year. Everybody really enjoyed his perspective, and we’re really excited to have him this year.
Oswald: We’re now a few years after Escobar, and two years after the Brand Memo. What are some of the big issues that are percolating out there that you might touch on in the panel?
Thomas: I think you’re exactly right about Escobar and materiality. We’re still continuing to see district courts, and at the circuit court level, Escobar applied, so we’re still seeing the after-effects. We have [a separate] panel on AseraCare, but we see that especially in the medical necessity arena. So that’s an important area we’ll talk a little bit about.
We’ll also talk a bit about the Granston Memo and what we’ve seen in some of the different circuit courts on the government’s ability to dismiss qui tam actions. We obviously have two different standards that are out there, and I think it’ll be interesting to hear our panelists’ perspective on where that is heading between the Swift standard and the Sequoia standard.
I think another important decision this year that we’ll spend a little bit of time talking about is the Cochise Consultancy case, which of course dealt with the statute of limitations for relators — I think that is a pretty interesting and important development over this past year.
So I think those are a couple of the big wavetops, but I think we’ll also be looking at other notable settlements for the year, as well as some of the other policy coming out of DOJ.
Oswald: Now you were involved in a big case this year against Duke University and it dealt with grant fraud. Tell us a little bit about the case and maybe some lessons learned?
Thomas: Absolutely. So the Duke University case was a pretty important case this past year dealing with fabricated or falsified data in grant applications — in N.I.H. grant applications. It dealt with a particular laboratory within Duke University, where fabricated, falsified data appeared in a number of grant applications over the course of years.
I think it’s an important case for a couple of reasons. One was its size. Although we’ve seen the N.I.H. deal with — and of course the Department of Justice working with the N.I.H. — we’ve seen them deal with grant fraud in the past, but not on this scale. And I think that was important.
I think it’s also important, post-Escobar, to have had a case dealing with the materiality aspects of scientific data and grant applications, and shining a light on what is important for the government in terms of these funding decisions.
Oswald: John, thank you.
Thomas: Thank you!
Oswald: [Turning to camera] We look forward to seeing you on February 27-28, 2020 here in Washington for the Qui Tam Conference. You can find us at fedbar.org.