In U.S. ex rel. Blyn v. Triumph Group, Inc., the District of Utah dismissed the relators’ False Claims Act complaint relating to the provision of allegedly nonconforming gears for use in aircraft owned by the government. The relators’ basic theory was puzzling: that because the contract’s technical specifications contradicted themselves, making it impossible for any product to comply with them, the defendants must have falsely certified compliance with the specifications to get paid.
In light of the numerous foundational problems with the complaint, the court had no hesitation dismissing it. For example, the complaint failed even to “specify any cause of action” or “reference any FCA provision that [the defendants] allegedly violated.” It should come as no surprise that a complaint under the False Claims Act that fails to identify the allegedly violated provisions of the Act is subject to dismissal.
Additionally, the complaint failed to “identify a single false claim submitted to the government,” failed to identify when any such claim had been submitted, and failed to allege that the government may not have paid the claim if it had known about the allegedly false statements. In short, the complaint was woefully deficient.
This case highlights the need for counsel to acquaint themselves with the basic requirements of the False Claims Act before filing suit to ensure that the complaint contains the basic information needed to survive a motion to dismiss.
Additionally, counsel should carefully examine their theories of the case to assess whether they really appear to suggest fraud. Even if it was metaphysically impossible for a contractor to deliver a conforming product under the specifications as written, more is needed to establish a False Claims Act suit. At a minimum, a complaint should allege some facts suggesting the contractor’s attempt to reconcile the contradictions was reckless. It’s hard for me, without more, to see a contractor’s reasonable attempt to reconcile the contradictions as fraud.