Strike up the band – Judge Vance’s Order calls the dance and “rocks” on Rockwell (a Branch qui tam update)

It’s been almost six months since SLABBED published Shall we dance? (March 2010), a post reporting Magistrate Shushan’s Order that granted in-part only the Branch Consultant’s Motion for leave to file a Second Amended Complaint (SAC) – so long that most have likely forgotten the big news of Shushan’s Order was what she denied and her subsequent Report, posted by Sop stock-basher style, recommending the Court limit Branch’s Discovery to the exemplar claims cited in the original Complaint.

Suffice it to say, a flurry of motions followed both the Order and Report and then everyone waited and waited –  and waited even longer – for Judge Vance to issue a related Order and Reasons (posted on Scribd below):

Before the Court are two challenges to the decisions of the Magistrate Judge. First, relator Branch Consultants appeals the Magistrate Judge’s decision granting in part and denying in part its Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint.  Branch also opposes the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation regarding the scope of discovery.  For the following reasons, the Magistrate Judge’s denial of Branch’s motion for leave to amend is REVERSED. The Court, after a de novo review, declines to accept the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation as detailed in this Order.

Because Judge Vance’s decision declining to accept the Magistrate’s Report and Recommendations addresses issues relevant to the Rigsby qui tam case, SLABBED reminds readers that Judge Vance “rocks” on Rockwell as we first review the related portion of her Order and the reasoning that led her to determine:

nothing in the statutory language requires Branch to be the original source for each manifestation of the allegedly fraudulent scheme. Continue reading “Strike up the band – Judge Vance’s Order calls the dance and “rocks” on Rockwell (a Branch qui tam update)”

wise as an owl, smart as a fox – Sarah Vance, Federal District Judge Eastern District Louisiana

The most difficult decisions that a Court can make require it to balance the need for finality and procedural regularity against the possibility, however faint, of injustice.  Any effort to draw a proper line between the two will never be perfect, nor will it be satisfactory to all involved. Nevertheless, the Court’s duty is to ensure that one side of the balance does not swallow the other.

Order and Reasons, Imperial Trading v Travelers, Federal District Judge Sarah Vance EDLA

When I ran into Imperial Trading v Travelers while checking for the latest on MRGO (nothing new there), it felt a bit like running into an old friend  – one you left stranded at a parte.  It wasn’t that I didn’t intend to follow up after posting good-ol-boys gone wild but Judge Vance in no mood for a parte.I just didn’t. With so much to cover in Katrina litigation here on the Coast, it just slipped my mind.  So, with a better late than never, here’s the end of the story about the good-ol-boys parte. Continue reading “wise as an owl, smart as a fox – Sarah Vance, Federal District Judge Eastern District Louisiana”

Just a twig about Branch qui tam

Ordinarily, a Motion to appear Pro Hac Vice does not merit a mention, much less a post.  However, there is nothing ordinary about the appearance of a Susman Godfrey attorney for the plaintiffs in the Branch Consultants qui tam case.

Founded in 1980, Susman Godfrey focuses its nationally recognized practice on just one thing: big – stakes commercial litigation. We are one of the nation’s leading litigation boutique law firms with locations in Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York. Each of the firm’s 79 trial attorneys devotes all of his or her time and talent to achieving excellent outcomes within the complex commercial litigation environment…

Susman Godfrey’s very first case, the Corrugated Container antitrust trial, led to one of the highest antitrust jury verdicts ever obtained.

Like that antitrust experience a lot; but, what I really find intriguing is… Continue reading “Just a twig about Branch qui tam”

Let’s talk – the Branch qui tam, Rigsby, and Judge Sarah Vance

SLABBED has been talking about the Maustaud directive on expedited claim handling process. Like most good conversations, one thing led to another – and the most recent “another” was a discussion of the relative merits of the qui tam claims filed by the Rigsby sisters and the Branch consultants.

The last SLABBED update on Branch – Support for Rigsby qui tam found hanging on the Branch qui tam docket – reported Judge Vance had requested the parties submit an order for preservation of documents.

The content of that post as well as that of a more recent post on an order issued by Judge Vance – Federal District Court Judge offers tutorial – proof of loss and segregation of damages – is relevant to the ongoing conversation about the Maustaud directive.

For example, the June update on Branch reported a Statement of Interest in Opposition to Defendant State Farm’s Motion to Dismiss filed by the United States among the entries made before the Order dismissing Branch was issued:

The fact that FIA and the WYO carriers enter into an agreement, and the agreement relates to the WYO carriers’ alleged violation of the FCA, does not mean that the FCA claim is founded on that agreement. Rather, the FCA claim is founded on the defendants’ alleged violation of a federal statute which prohibits a person, like the defendants, from acting with appropriate scienter to submit false or fraudulent claims to the government or make false statements in order to avoid an obligation to the government. Further, the FCA provides for relief – treble damages and penalties – that is not available under the Arrangement but that arises instead by statute.

The Fifth Circuit reinstated Branch, in part, last February.  The current conversation, like an off-blog mention of the case last June, reminded me to check the docket where this time I found the most recent entry was this past July, the Order and Reasons of Judge Vance’s decision on the preservation of documents : Continue reading “Let’s talk – the Branch qui tam, Rigsby, and Judge Sarah Vance”