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Implied False Certification Split Widens

June 12, 2015

In U.S. v. Sanford-Brown, Ltd. (June 8, 2015), the Seventh Circuit rejected the implied false certification theory of False Claims Act liability, holding that alleged noncompliance with Title IV restrictions incorporated into a program participation agreement (PPA) for the Department of Education's subsidies program was insufficient to trigger FCA liability absent evidence that the defendant's application to establish initial Title IV eligibility was fraudulent. Although the majority of circuits have expressly adopted some form of the implied false certification theory of liability, the court joined the Fifth Circuit as the holdouts in rejecting the theory, explaining that "it would be . . . unreasonable for us to hold that an institution's continued compliance with the thousands of pages of federal statutes and regulations incorporated by reference into the PPA are conditions of payment for purposes of liability under the FCA."

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