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  • David9482

    Here we go, this trial will be interesting

  • Il_falcone

    Disclaimer: I’m not a jurist and I’m not a US citizen. But I think and people generally say that my common sense is in good order.
    Now let me utter my profound disbelief that this whole process has anything to do with common sense.
    The role Floyd Landis plays in this whole thing and his motivation for doing so (trying to possibly gain some 25 m $) is so bizarre it takes the whole thing completely ad absurdum for me.
    I’m glad to live in a country where a trial like this would be impossible.
    I suppose that’s impossible but I would really like to read an article understandable for laymen explaining the jurisdictional background for a bill that makes this trial possible.

    • DaveRides

      This provision in the False Claims Act basically says that contract fraud is bad, but contract fraud involving government money is REALLY bad, and therefore the damages awarded* can be trebled. Those who do the wrong thing should have to pay more than their fair share, just like people paying court fines and expiation fees in Australia have to pay into the Victims of Crime Fund (even if they committed a trivial crime like cycling across an empty pedestrian crossing) rather than support services being funded out of taxation.

      I gather that the reasoning behind allowing these qui tam (“in place of”) whistleblower lawsuits is intended as a check on corruption, to ensure that wrongdoing can be pursued even if the government chooses not to take action themselves. The portion of the damages awarded to the whistleblower is higher than normal if the government doesn’t join the suit, and lower than normal if the whistleblower had been taking part in the practices themselves**.

      An alternative to these whistleblower suits in the US is the situation in England and Wales where individuals or companies can launch private prosecutions of criminal offences, but they only get costs and compensation rather than a share of any fine the offender is ordered to pay. I look at that and think that the lesser financial reward and the higher burden of proof makes this a less attractive option for whistleblowers than the US rules.

      * the really interesting part of the trial will be the amount of damages that the jury will award, there’s no guarantee it will be the full USD32.3M claimed by the plaintiffs.
      ** hopefully this will see Landis get the minimum award of around 15%.

      • Il_falcone

        Thanks Dave,

        I still can’t get my head around the fact that one guy doing the same thing should benefit financially (and in big style) from the sentence over one of his peers. I understand that Armstrong was “more” responsible than Landis for the doping program at USPS but if Armstrong commited fraud (and not the team director(s) who are really accountable per definition of their job description) then Landis did the same. Normally a whistleblower can hope for a deal sparing him the penalty but promising him a big chunk of the damage seems like the result of a legislation that is anything but balanced. And then this guy walks out of the court not only as a free man but as a rich free man although he was part of the fraudulent system.
        Yeah, I think I understand the motivation behind it but it still seems “wrong” to me.
        Is that a law based upon which many lawsuits are run?

        • DaveRides

          During 1987-2013 the US government recovered around USD38 billion through the False Claims Act, of which USD27 billion came from whistleblower-initiated suits. The bulk of them involve defence contractors and healthcare contractors.

          https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/civil/legacy/2013/12/26/C-FRAUDS_FCA_Statistics.pdf

          A quick look around the net suggests that people convicted of a crime relating to what they disclose are ineligible to get a reward payment from the Department of Justice, but they may have their legal costs paid. This is good to know.

          Landis is not going to get rich out of this, for the following reasons:
          1. This is a case which should be settled for an amount well short of the government’s full claim of USD96 million. The DoJ loves to settle cases because losing really sucks.
          2. His portion will be low because the Justice Department has done the heavy lifting and they know he is a ‘guilty whistleblower’ as opposed to someone who observed it without taking part.
          3. Once he gets his portion, the IRS will take a slice of it and he’ll use part of the remainder to pay any of his outstanding legal fees.

          • Il_falcone

            Thanks again, Dave,
            now the whole thing makes more sense to me. In point 2 you suggest that the DoJ has a means to somewhat negotitate or decide which portion of the damage finally ruled by the court they want to give to Landis. But I suppose I misunderstood this and it’s the judge respectively the panel who decide how much he gets based on what is fixed in the FCA law.
            And the minimum “award” (that’s a great term in this reference) of 15% is still a lot of money for Floyd.
            Now I’m really curious to find out how that trial ends because they also have to make sure that the whistleblower goes out of it somewhat rewarded in order to not disencourage future prospective whistleblowers. That’s a thin slack line for the DoJ and the panel IMHO.

  • Maximus

    My first thought is, will the Crazy Orange Man get involved?

  • Patrick Murphy

    You can be sure that at some point the USPS had a conversation amounting to “we know he’s doping, but let’s play dumb and see how this plays out”.

  • Steve-O

    Nicely written and informative reporting work Neal. I appreciate the key excerpts and how you let Justice Cooper’s words stand on their own. While other sites make suppositions about who will try to do what, you folks just tell the facts and allow the reader to create their own opinions. I hope this continues.
    DaveRides, thanks for sharing some interesting and well-informed insights. It is nice to see that reasonable, articulate discussion/comments can actually add to the original piece. Thanks Neal.

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