Lance Armstrong False Claims Act Case Advances Toward Critical Ruling

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the hotly contested False Claims Act case pending against him should be dismissed.  The case, which was originally brought by Armstrong’s former teammate Floyd Landis under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act and later joined by the federal government, alleges that the U.S. Postal Service would not have paid $32.3 million in sponsorship money if it had known Armstrong had taken illegal performance enhancing drugs.

The federal government also recently filed its own motion asking the court to affirm that Tailwind Sports, the cycling team’s owner, submitted 41 claims for payment to the USPS from 2000 to 2004, totaling the $32.3 million sought as single damages.  However, under the treble damages provisions of the False Claims Act, Armstrong is facing over $100 million in damages if found liable.

Armstrong’s defense largely focuses two issues.  First, Armstrong claims that he, himself, did not submit any false claims to the USPS but that the sponsorship contracts were between USPS and Tailwind Sports and Tailwind then paid Armstrong a salary.  Second, Armstrong argues that reports commissioned by the USPS show that the USPS did not suffer any damages.  Armstrong claims these reports instead show the USPS received at least $165 million in domestic and international media exposure as a result of the cycling team sponsorship between 2001 and 2004.

The government views the issues differently arguing, “No sponsor who knew the truth about how Armstrong achieved his Tour de France victories would have paid any amount of money to sponsor him or his team.”

District Judge Christopher R. Cooper is presiding over the case in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and is expected to rule on the respective motions in the coming weeks.  If the court denies Armstrong’s motion, the case will proceed to trial and Armstrong could potentially be held liable for over $100 million in damages.

Whether Armstrong’s motion for summary judgment is granted or denied, the highly anticipated ruling will shape the history of the False Claims Act and this atypical case which has propelled the FCA into the mainstream media.

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