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False Eligibility Application For Grant May Violate FCA

November 9, 2005

In a ruling that could expand the exposure of grantees to False Claims Act liability, the Seventh Circuit in United States ex rel. Main v. Oakland City University (Oct. 20, 2005) held that a relator stated an FCA claim based upon a private university's allegedly false representation, made on a "phase one" application to establish institutional eligibility for federal financial aid, that it would comply with laws prohibiting payment of incentive fees to recruiters for enrolling students. Rejecting the argument that the "phase one" application does not by itself seek any payment, the court reasoned that a false "phase one" eligibility application could be actionable as a "false record or statement" under the FCA because it supports subsequent "phase two" requests for specific loans and grants.

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