Litigation & Dispute Resolution

BLOG: SCOTUS Clarifies Vague Arbitration Clauses Affecting Class Disputes for Growing Businesses

October 10, 2019
By Patrick K. Burns
For most small to medium-sized businesses, the threat of a class action is not usually front-of-mind. However, as a business grows, the threat can increase depending on the number of employees and the nature of the work being performed. Class actions are commonly thought of as involving hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals. However, courts routinely consider much smaller groups of employees, including groups of approximately 40 individuals to be sufficient to establish a class action. To reduce the risk of a class action disrupting business operations and impacting revenue, businesses may want to consider including arbitration clauses in their employment and consumer agreements.

BLOG: Small Businesses and the FCA: Are More FCA Cases Against Small Businesses on the Horizon?

September 19, 2019
By Timothy F. Valley
On August 20, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had reached a $20 million settlement with Luke Hillier (Hillier), the majority owner and former CEO of a Virginia-based defense contractor, ADS, Inc. (ADS), to resolve "allegations that he violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by fraudulently obtaining federal set-aside contracts reserved for small businesses that his company was ineligible to receive . . . ." The resolution of the claims against Hillier follows ADS's payment of a separate $16 million settlement on related claims, as well as an additional $225,000 paid by Charles Salle, the former general counsel of ADS, to resolve claims arising from his role in the alleged scheme. Combined, the $36 million total settlement is believed to be the largest FCA recovery in history based on allegations of small business contracting fraud. Given the size of the collective settlement and the nature of the allegations against Hillier and ADS, small businesses everywhere—particularly government contractors—should anticipate a potential increase in the frequency of small business fraud-related FCA cases.

BLOG: Key Ruling on Native American Sovereign Immunity Stands—for Now

September 13, 2019
By Paul W. Mengel III
The Fourth Circuit case Williams v. Big Picture Loans is being hailed as a major victory for Native American sovereign immunity rights. For entities owned by Native American tribes, the case stands as an important ruling for determining arm-of-the-tribe sovereign immunity. The case may be appealed to the Supreme Court.

BLOG: Building Compliance: Construction Industry Concerns Under FCA

August 28, 2019
By Sarah L. Nash
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has settled and obtained judgments in excess of $2.8 billion for false claims against the government last year. Over $2.1 billion of these cases arose from lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act (FCA) which incentivizes whistleblowers to file claims. Government contractors in the construction industry – both primes and subs – face a higher risk of FCA liability because of the complicated nature of construction contracts and prevailing wage obligations. Below we discuss the top FCA issues facing construction contractors and protection strategies for avoiding them.

BLOG: SCOTUS Strengthens Protections for Federal Government Contractors Under FOIA

August 9, 2019
By Patrick K. Burns
The Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA" or "the Act") provides private citizens access to information in the possession of government agencies that is not otherwise publically available. Unfortunately, an agency's disclosure can potentially include confidential information of a government contractor, such as proposal content, pricing structures, and other proprietary material. Such disclosures are concerning because publically disclosed information can be used by competitors to the great detriment of the contractor. Luckily for contractors, FOIA's power is not unlimited. Indeed, Congress restricted its scope through a series of exemptions that protect certain information from disclosure that can be of use to contractors when a competitor or private party seeks a company's proprietary information that is in the hands of the government.
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