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Substantial Penalties Under the FCA Without Real Damages Violates Eighth Amendment

Feb.23.2012

Using reasoning that could prove useful to other FCA defendants, the court in U.S. ex rel. Bunk v. Birkart Globistics GmbH & Co. (E.D. Va. Feb. 14, 2012),  after the jury found over 9,000 false claims based on invoices submitted, refused to award statutory penalties of between $50.2 and $100.4 million.  The court held that, when the qui tam relator failed to show that the government suffered any damage, imposing penalties of this magnitude would have violated the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause and, because it lacked discretion under the FCA to  fashion a civil penalty that would be within Constitutional limits, no penalties could be imposed.
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