US ex rel. Carson v. Manor Care, Inc., No. 16-1035 (4th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed a qui tam suit under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, and the state equivalents, alleging that Manor Care was overbilling the government for medical services. Plaintiff also alleged a separate claim of retaliation, claiming that he was terminated after he notified his employer of the alleged overbilling. Christine A. Ribik had previously filed a qui tam suit under seal in the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of the United States against Manor Care. The court dismissed the complaint under the FCA's first-to-file rule. The court concluded that plaintiff has not managed to avoid the first-to-file bar simply by alleging additional facts relating to how Manor Care overbilled, even though some of those specific allegations were not mentioned in Ribik's complaint. The court also concluded that plaintiff's alternative argument, that his complaint should not be dismissed because the district court consolidated them with Ribik's, failed under the plain language of the FCA. Therefore, the district court properly determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's qui tam action under the FCA. The court concluded, however, that the first-to-file rule has no relation to a claim for retaliation. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not support its decision with any discussion or authority to establish that any of the states apply the FCA first-to-file rule, or its equivalent, to that state's statute. Therefore, the court affirmed in part, but vacated and remanded that part of the judgment concerning plaintiff's retaliation and state fraud claims.