September 28, 2009
(Washington, DC) — The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has filed an additional brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a multi-million dollar fraud case against Planned Parenthood (PP) affiliates in California. The ACLJ filed its reply brief Friday with the appeals court in a case where ACLJ attorneys represent a former employee of the PP affiliate in Los Angeles, who is now a federal whistleblower. The case had been dismissed by a federal district court, but the ACLJ is asking the appeals court to reinstate the lawsuit.
The federal False Claims Act (FCA) forbids government contractors from submitting "false or fraudulent" claims for payment. The FCA also authorizes private individuals to bring suit against the offenders to recover the fraudulently obtained funds.
"Nationally, Planned Parenthood is a billion-dollar operation. We believe this case will show that Planned Parenthood has been soaking taxpayers even beyond the legal limits," said Jay Sekulow, ACLJ Chief Counsel. "The False Claims Act provides an important weapon in rectifying illegal runs on taxpayer dollars."
The allegation in this case is that PP affiliates in California illegally marked up the supposed cost of various birth control drugs when seeking government reimbursement, resulting in tens of millions of dollars of overbilling — at taxpayer expense. State audits in both California and Washington State have found PP affiliates guilty of overbilling.
In the reply brief filed with the appeals court on September 25th, the ACLJ counters arguments that the Planned Parenthood affiliates made in their own brief on appeal. In particular, the ACLJ brief takes Planned Parenthood to task for "misrepresenting" the record in the case and for "improperly" trying to inject new materials into the case on appeal.
You can read the reply brief here. When the former PP staffer sued the PP affiliates in federal court, charging the defendants with having fraudulently overbilled the state and federal governments in the amount of tens of millions of dollars, a prominent law firm began representing the PP defendants in the case for free. The law firm convinced a federal district court to dismiss the case. ACLJ attorneys then entered the case to handle the appeal.
"This is a very complicated, highly technical area of the law," noted Sekulow. "There is no way an ordinary citizen, no matter how just the claim or how egregious the fraud, could afford to take on a prominent law firm in a complex area of the law like this. We're very pleased that the ACLJ was available to provide the high-powered analysis a case like this calls for," concluded Sekulow.
The ACLJ filed its opening brief in July and explained why the appeals court should reverse the lower court's judgment and reinstate the lawsuit. You can read the ACLJ opening brief here.
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C.