Since the 1980s, the Federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) has been the United States’ primary civil mechanism to stem, recover for, and punish fraud against government programs and in government contracting. It provides for both treble damages and additional statutory penalties. It also establishes a public-private partnership in which whistleblowers are empowered to work alongside or in the name of the United States to prosecute fraud. In return, they receive a portion of the recovery and attorneys’ fees. The FCA has proven so successful in uncovering fraud and recovering tax payer dollars that a majority of states have passed similar statutes. As a result, FCA litigation is a particularly salient example of the complex civil litigation found throughout federal and state courts. It can involve allegations of nationwide fraud requiring extensive discovery, made on behalf of multiple plaintiffs, including multiple independent sovereigns, and for which the potential recovery risks bankrupting the defendant.
This course will use the allegations, discovery, and trial testimony from actual FCA suits to introduce students to the intricacies of and strategic considerations presented by this and other complex civil litigation. The course will follow the development of FCA suits from the under seal investigation of the case through trial with a special focus on utilizing and defending against discovery and driving cases to early resolution. Students will draft portions of complaints, proposed orders, discovery requests, motions, and jury instructions. Class time will be used to critique student work product and strategize responses so that students will be exposed to both defense and plaintiff perspectives and understand the tradeoffs faced by litigants in multi-party suits. Students will also hear from practitioners, including mediators and judges, to understand the techniques they employ and what motivates their decisions. The goal is that at the end of the course students will have experience with all of the tools of complex civil litigation, an understanding of how to take a case from complaint to trial, a familiarity with the central legal doctrines underlying FCA actions, exposure to private-public interest practice, and an appreciation for working with the government and other co-parties.
Students will be evaluated based on their written work product and class participation.