On January 31, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Judge Gorsuch has been described as an originalist with a judicial philosophy similar to that of Justice Antonin Scalia, whose vacancy in the Court he has been nominated to fill. While Judge Gorsuch has participated in only a few appeals of False Claims Act cases, his views regarding the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of deference to agency interpretations suggests that companies and individuals who find themselves the subject of FCA suits based on allegations that they violated overbroad, confusing, or ambiguous agency regulations may find a sympathetic ear.
Today, DOJ announced that already-onerous FCA civil penalties will be increasing again effective immediately. Pursuant to the 2015 budget bill which required annual re-indexing of FCA penalties for inflation (discussed here), the minimum per-claim penalty, which jumped last year from $5,500 to $10,781, increases to $10,957. The maximum per-claim penalty, which rose from $11,000 to $21,563 last year, increases to $21,916. The penalties will continue to be adjusted each year to reflect changes in the inflation rate. (more…)