Litigation & Dispute Resolution

BLOG: The FCA Continues to Pay (For the Government): Key Takeaways from DOJ's FY 2019 Fraud Statistics

January 14, 2020
By Matthew E. Feinberg
On January 9, 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it recovered more than $3 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud and the False Claims Act (FCA) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, which ended September 30, 2019. Along with the announcement, the government issued its annual fraud statistics report for the fiscal year. The government's announcement and report confirmed trends in FCA litigation and other fraud cases that government contractors should look out for in 2020 and beyond.

BLOG: Liquidated Damages Clauses: Important Considerations for Business Owners

December 16, 2019
By Patrick K. Burns
When drafting or negotiating any contract, businesses should give careful consideration to avenues of recovery in the event of a breach by the other party. At times, this determination is straight-forward, such as where a party fails to pay amounts owed. But the analysis can become complicated in situations where damages aren't readily quantifiable, such as where a trade secret is misappropriated or a former employee solicits a company client. To simplify such issues, businesses include liquidated damages provisions in their agreements. The clauses provide for the payment of a stipulated amount of money if the agreement is breached. While commonplace, legal enforceability of such provisions is often overlooked by many business owners. Depending on the nature of the agreement, a liquidated damages clause may be worth considering, but is not always appropriate. Due to the many complexities involved, legal counsel is recommended to provide guidance on these issues.

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.
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