Judge Considers Summary Judgment in Government’s FCA Suit Against Lance Armstrong
The legal battle between the Justice Department and Lance Armstrong may be nearing an end as the district court considers additional arguments on Armstrong’s motion for summary judgment, filed at the end of April. As we reported last January, the district court had granted summary judgment for Armstrong on the government’s reverse false claims counts but kept alive the possibility of direct false claims liability arising out of sponsorship money paid by the United States Postal Service to Armstrong’s management company, Tailwind Sports. The government alleges in its suit that Armstrong’s cycling team violated its sponsorship contract by doping and that it made false statements about the cyclists’ compliance with anti-doping rules in order to continue to receive sponsorship payments. In all, the government claims it paid Tailwind $32 million, based on 41 claims for payment, under the sponsorship agreements, and that the sponsorship was worthless because the government didn’t get the drug-free cycling team it had been promised under the terms of the agreements. Because the FCA allows for treble damages, the government’s claims could skyrocket to a staggering $100 million. According to Armstrong, however, the government cannot prove that it was harmed by his doping because it received far more benefits from the sponsorship – at least $163.7 million – than it paid out, and therefore suffered no actual damages. Armstrong also argues that because he was never a party to the sponsorship agreements and never submitted a claim for payment under either agreement, he should not be held liable for payments made to Tailwind. It could be several weeks before a ruling is issued.