Ninth Circuit reinstates qui tam suit against Planned Parenthood, reversing dismissal on public disclosure grounds

by Ben Vernia | July 27th, 2010

In an unpublished July 1 decision in United States ex rel. Gonzalez v. Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a Central District of California decision to dismiss a former Planned Parenthood employee’s whistleblower suit. Applying – by agreement of the parties – the pre-health care reform version of the False Claims Act’s public disclosure provision, the Court:

  • Upheld the trial judge’s decision rejecting Planned Parenthood’s argument that a state audit constituted a public disclosure, because the only distribution of the audit was in an email from one Planned Parenthood office to others; even though the organizations were separately incorporated, the court reasoned, they performed similar services, maintained the same billing practices, and faced a common threat.
  • Held that the Supreme Court’s decision in Graham Co. Soil & Water Dist. v. U.S. ex rel. Wilson clarified the public disclosure bar and mandated reversing the district court’s decision that a state senate committee report was a prior public disclosure.
  • Disagreed with the district court that the relator’s own earlier wrongful termination suit barred the qui tam action, and found that the relator was an original source.

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts

Recent Comments