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Volume XII, Number 280

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FCA Enforcement: Eighth Circuit Requires But-For Causation for Anti-Kickback FCA Violations

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent ruling in United States ex rel. Cairns v. D.S. Med., LLC is a significant win for defendants facing False Claims Act (FCA) claims based on alleged violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). That statute states that claims for items or services “resulting from” a violation of the AKS constitute false or fraudulent claims for purposes of the FCA. 2022 WL 2930946 (8th Cir. Jul. 26, 2022).

In Cairns, the Eighth Circuit held proof of fraud or falsity under the FCA requires a showing that “a defendant would not have included particular items or services but for the illegal kickbacks.” Id. at *6 (emphasis added). This sets an appropriately high bar for causation, requiring proof that the defendant would not have submitted the alleged false claim in the absence of the alleged kickback.

The Cairns ruling also creates a circuit split with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which previously held that for a relator to show a false claim “result[ed] from” a kickback, there was no need to prove a direct causal link. United States ex rel. Greenfield v. Medco Health Solutions, Inc., 880 F.3d 89 (3d Cir. 2018). We will continue to monitor for legal developments, as the issue inevitably is raised before other circuit courts of appeal— and, given the circuit split, may eventually be addressed by the Supreme Court. For now, however, FCA defendants within the Eighth Circuit have support for this stricter causation standard for AKS-related claims.

© 2022 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 227
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About this Author

Lisa Noller, Trial Lawyer, Foley Lardner Law Firm
Partner

Lisa Noller is a trial lawyer and investigator with Foley & Lardner LLP, where she is chair of the Government Enforcement, Compliance & White Collar Defense Practice. She has spent almost 20 years investigating, litigating and trying complex criminal and civil cases, including responding to government investigations, conducting corporate internal investigations, and persuading the government not to pursue clients. When cases proceed to trial, Ms. Noller also has significant experience successfully trying a wide variety of over 30 civil and criminal matters in...

312-832-4363
Jessica Joseph, Foley Lardner Law Firm, Boston, Healthcare and Litigation Law Attorney
Associate

Jessica Joseph is an associate and litigation attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP. Ms. Joseph is a member of the firm’s Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution, Health Care, and eDiscovery & Data Management Practices.

Previously, Ms. Joseph served as a summer associate in Foley’s Orlando office. Ms. Joseph has also interned with the Office of Audit and Investigation of the United Nations Development Programme, where she provided legal support for investigations into various types of internal misconduct by UNDP employees and officials...

617-226-3196
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