Pennsylvania Record

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Federal government loses request to extend seal on a False Claims Act lawsuit

Lawsuits

By Chandra Lye | Nov 2, 2018

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PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania court has denied a government request to extend the seal on a False Claims Act lawsuit.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied the request, saying the government failed to demonstrate good cause for the request. 

“The Government has moved for reconsideration, and has sought another extension on top. The Court held a hearing on October 11, 2018,” the court decision stated. “But the arguments still fail to demonstrate good cause. Therefore, the Court will deny the request for reconsideration of the Court’s order lifting the seal, and will require the Government to make an intervention decision within 30 days of learning of the Court’s order lifting the seal.”

The complaint was originally filed by Jean Brasher, a relator, on Oct. 1, 2013. In False Claims Act cases, the relator brings the lawsuit on behalf of the federal government, which is alleged to have been cheated.

The federal government has the option to join the lawsuit.

“Brasher alleges that Pentec Health defrauded and/or conspired to defraud government health insurance programs,” the court decision stated. 

Throughout the case, the government has made several extension requests including one at a March 20 hearing. 

“The Government argued it needed more time to complete its intervention evaluation, Brasher’s anonymity needed protecting, and Pentec should be given time to respond while not being prejudiced by potentially untruthful allegations being made public. The Court granted the Government’s 10th request,” the court documents noted. 

The government then asked for another extension on July 17. However, the court decision stated it found no good cause for “reimposing the seal, wholly or partially.“

“The sealing provision is not intended to allow the Government to negotiate a settlement under the cloak of secrecy but rather to investigate the allegations and then to determine whether it is electing to intervene,” the court decision stated. 

“The Government has not identified any sensitive investigational techniques that are discussed in the extension requests. Second, there is no ongoing investigation that could be jeopardized. In light of the foregoing, the Court concludes that there is no good cause to seal the requests.”

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