The Eleventh Circuit recently became the first Court of Appeals to apply the Supreme Court’s decision in United States ex rel. Polansky v. Executive Health Resources, Inc., 143 S. Ct. 1720 (2023), when it affirmed a district court’s decision to grant DOJ’s motion to dismiss a qui tam suit over a relator’s objections. In Polansky, which we analyzed in detail here, the Supreme Court held that the United States may move to dismiss under 31 U.S.C. § 3730(c)(2)(A) regardless of when it intervened in the case and that courts should review any such motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a). The Eleventh Circuit’s decision underscores the United States’ broad dismissal power in False Claims Act cases.
The Eleventh Circuit recently held that the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on excessive fines applies to monetary awards in non-intervened FCA actions—the first federal court of appeals directly to address the application of this constitutional protection in non-intervened cases. See Yates v. Pinellas, No. 20-10276 (11th Cir.). However, the panel concluded that while the amount of the fine in this case was “very harsh,” it was not unconstitutionally excessive.
In Yates v. Pinellas, following the government’s declination, the district court imposed a total monetary award of $1,179,266.62 under the FCA based on the defendant’s submission of laboratory test claims to Medicare without a proper CLIA certificate. Specifically, the jury found that the defendant violated the FCA on 214 occasions and that the United States had incurred $755.54 in damages. The court then imposed treble damages of $2,266.62 and statutory minimum penalties of $5,500 for each of the 214 violations, or $1,177,000, for a grand total of $1,179,266.62. The defendant moved for remittitur, arguing that this amount constituted an excessive fine in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The district court rejected the argument. (more…)