SCOTUS Denies Certiorari in Cases Concerning FCA Liability Requirement, Objective Falsity Circuit Split Remains Intact

The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari without comment in two cases seeking to resolve a Circuit split regarding the proof required to establish that a claim for payment was false or fraudulent under the False Claims Act.

Two Petitioners asked the Court to decide whether the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733, requires proof of “objective falsity”, or whether a plaintiff expert’s opinion that differs from the judgment of the defendant is sufficient to show a claim for payment was false or fraudulent under the FCA.  Both cases involved allegations that a physician’s certification of medical necessity for hospice services was false, and therefore sufficient to prove plaintiffs’ FCA claims.

Continue reading

Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Breast Implant Cases on Preemption Grounds

The Ninth Circuit has confirmed in quadrophonic sound that plaintiffs cannot avoid preemption by relying on vague and speculative allegations to establish a parallel claim.  The court affirmed the dismissal of four lawsuits by plaintiffs claiming they were injured by breast implants on the grounds that their claims are barred by the 1976 Medical Device Amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (MDA).  Sewell v. Mentor Worldwide, LLC, et al., no. 19-56393; Vieira v. Mentor Worldwide, LLC, et al., no. 19-56394; Billetts v. Mentor Worldwide, LLC, et al., no. 19-56398; Nunn v. Mentor Worldwide, LLC, et al., no. 19-56391.

In each case, California plaintiffs alleged their breast implants were defective and caused them to experience fatigue, muscle pain, and migraines.  The district courts dismissed the complaints for failure to state a claim on grounds of preemption, and plaintiffs appealed.

Continue reading

Considerations from the ABA’s Best Practices for Litigation Funding

The exact dollar amount that third-party investors infuse in U.S. lawsuits every year is unknown, but conservative estimates begin around $2.3 billion, with agreement that the industry has room to grow. With the ongoing pandemic stretching litigation timelines and straining budgets, the litigation funding industry remains highly active. Despite the importance of litigation funding to all parties involved (lawyers, plaintiffs, and defendants), regulation varies by state, and litigation funders are largely left to self-regulate.

Continue reading

Double Whammy: Fifth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Suit Against Generic and Brand-Name Drug Manufacturers

Some product liability suits are dead on arrival. At least, that is the position the Fifth Circuit took late last week in affirming the dismissal of a pro se plaintiff’s suit against a collection of generic and brand-name drug manufacturers.

The case in question is Johnson v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, et al., and concerns Mr. Johnson’s purported struggles with Peyronie’s Disease (PD), a connective tissue disorder that causes painful, bent erections, after he had ingested generic forms of the prescription drugs Minocin (an antibiotic) and Tegretol (an anticonvulsant).

Continue reading

Failure to Fully Disclose Expert Opinions Results in Summary Judgment

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2) requires retained expert witnesses to provide an expert report which gives “a complete statement of all opinions the witness will express and the basis and reasons for them.”  Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(2)(B)(i).  If a party fails to disclose information required under Rule 26(a)(2), “the party is not allowed to use that information or witness to supply evidence on a motion, at a hearing, or at a trial, unless the failure was substantially justified or is harmless.”  Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(c)(1).  As a plaintiff in the Western District of Washington recently learned, failure to adhere to Rule 26 can be fatal to a case.

Continue reading

“Vanilla” Milk Claims Continue to Sour as Southern District of New York Dismisses Putative Class Action Complaint

As we discussed in a previous post, the Northern District of California recently dismissed a plaintiff’s claim that the term “vanilla” was misleading on the label of a soymilk product.  The Southern District of New York has now similarly dismissed a putative class action complaint alleging that a “vanilla” almond milk product was labeled in a way that misled customers.

In Wynn v. Topco Associates, LLC, No. 19-cv-11104, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant’s use of the word “vanilla” on the label of its almond milk product – “Vanilla Almost Milk” – falsely communicated to consumers that the beverage’s flavor was derived entirely from real vanilla, when in fact the product includes non-vanilla flavorings.  Plaintiffs claimed, among other things, that this violated the New York General Business Law (NYGBL).

Continue reading