False Claims Act claims

In addition to all of the other risks, liabilities and exposures arising from cybersecurity concerns, you can now add the possibility of a whistleblower action for cybersecurity fraud. According to a July 31, 2019 press release from counsel for the whistleblower involved (here), Cisco Systems has agreed to an $8.6 million settlement in what the press release claims is the “first cybersecurity whistleblower case ever successfully litigated under the False Claims Act.” Cisco has agreed to pay the amount to settle allegations that the company knowingly sold vulnerable and defective video surveillance software to federal, state, and local government agencies, exposing the systems to unauthorized access. As discussed below, this development even further expands the range of concerns companies must take into account when assessing their cybersecurity exposures. An August 12, 2019 memo from the Jones Day law firm about the settlement and its implications can be found here.
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When most people think of liability insurance, they think about the insurer’s payment obligations. But policyholders have obligations under liability insurance policies, too. Among the most important policyholder obligation is the requirement to provide timely notice of claim. The failure to provide timely notice can entirely preclude coverage, as is illustrated in a ruling in a recent coverage dispute arising out of an underlying False Claims Act claim. As discussed below, there were a number of circumstances involved in the underlying claim that the policyholder argued excused or at least explained its late provision of notice. However, the court rejected these arguments and held the late notice was not excused and that coverage was precluded. The February 12, 2019 order in the case by Central District of California Judge Stephen V. Wilson can be found here.
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In an unusual and potentially significant move, the U.S. Department of Justice has named as one of the defendants in a False Claims Act lawsuit a private equity firm whose portfolio company the DOJ alleges engaged in an illegal health care-related kickback scheme. As the Jones Day law firm noted in a February 27, 2018 client memo about the DOJ’s action, the inclusion of a PE firm as a defendant in this lawsuit “may indicate a sea change in terms of who the DOJ is willing to pursue in False Claims Act changes” and “could signal the DOJ’s willingness to seek to pierce the corporate veil and hold private equity sponsors accountable for the noncompliance of their portfolio companies in the health care industry.” The DOJ’s February 23, 2018 press release about the lawsuit can be found here. The DOJ’s complaint in intervention in the lawsuit can be found here.
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