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Supreme Court Accepts Implied False Certification Theory But Erects Substantial Hurdles To Proving Materiality

June 17, 2016, Covington Alert

In Universal Health Services Inc. v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar, No. 15-7 (Slip. Op. June 16, 2016), a unanimous Supreme Court affirmed the viability of the “implied false certification” theory of False Claims Act liability, at least in certain circumstances. This portion of the ruling was not unexpected given the overwhelming acceptance of implied certification among the Circuit courts. But, more importantly, out of concern that the statute be applied too broadly, the Court also explained at length that the “materiality” standard in the statute is a “demanding” one, and set a high bar for the Government and relators to demonstrate materiality of the alleged non-compliance.

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