United States v. Strock, No. 19-4331 (2d Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The United States appealed the district court's dismissal of its claims under the False Claims Act (FCA) and federal common law against SCI. The government's claims stemmed from its belief that a service-disabled veteran's ownership in VECO was illusory. Rather, the government alleges that the company was controlled by Defendant Lee Strock, who set up VECO as a front to funnel contract work for his company, SCI.
The Second Circuit concluded that the district court's finding with respect to materiality was erroneous because it was premised on too restrictive a conception of the FCA materiality inquiry set out in Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016); the government has plausibly alleged materiality in this case; the district court's conclusion that the complaint failed to allege defendants' knowledge was erroneous as to Lee Strock, and potentially as to SCI, but not as to Cynthia Golde; and the district court should not have dismissed the common law claims on jurisdictional grounds because it had original jurisdiction over these claims under 28 U.S.C. 1345. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and vacated in part.