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FCA Does Not Authorize In-House Counsel/Relator to Reveal Client Confidences


In Fair Lab. Practices Assocs. v. Quest Diagnostics (Oct. 25, 2013), the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a qui tam suit that was brought by a general partnership formed for the purpose of bringing the suit because (1) the partnership included the defendant's former general counsel, and (2) the former general counsel violated his ethical obligations by divulging confidential client information in pursuit of the litigation, notwithstanding that a non-lawyer member of the partnership initiated the suit. While the Second Circuit did not create a bright-line rule barring all in-house lawyers from using client information in FCA cases, it did strike a balance between a lawyer's ethical obligations to the client and the government's competing interest in encouraging "whistleblowers" to report fraud, finding that the disclosure exceeded what was necessary to prevent the client from committing a crime.

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