by Ben Vernia | November 26th, 2013
In a 15-year-old False Claims Act case tried over the past two weeks in Washington, D.C., a note from the still-deliberating jury cannot have been welcomed by the defendant, MWI Corporation of Florida. The government and defendant made their closing arguments on November 21. The next afternoon, the jury sent District Judge Gladys Kessler asking: “If we decide the Government sustained damages on both question 1 and 2, will the amounts we enter on question 1 and 2 be combined?” (Question 1 was whether the defendant had violated the False Claims Act’s primary section, forbidding presenting false claims; question 2 was whether MWI had violated the “false records” section of the Act.) Judge Kessler responded that the jury must determine the damages, if any, separately for each claim.
It seems unlikely the jury would have asked this question unless it had already concluded that the company was liable under one or both sections of the Act.
Disclosure: I worked on the MWI case more than a decade ago, as a Trial Attorney in the Civil Division’s Fraud Section.