On April 6, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted a motion for summary judgment filed by a waste company in an implied certification case under the False Claims Act (FCA), holding that the relator failed to satisfy the Supreme Court’s materiality standard announced in the landmark Escobar case.
The claims in U.S. ex rel. Cressman v. Solid Waste Services, Inc. arose from waste company employees discharging leachate, a liquid that passes through or is generated by trash, onto a grassy area at a transfer station, rather than sending the leachate to a treatment plant. The relator reported the leachate discharge to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which conducted an investigation. The waste company cooperated in the investigation, conducted its own investigation, and took corrective steps in response to the allegations. The company also entered into a consent decree in connection with which it paid a civil penalty.
The relator then filed his qui tam action under the FCA, in which the government declined to intervene. The relator asserted that the defendant waste company was liable under the FCA because it submitted claims for payment to federal agencies without disclosing its violation of environmental regulations arising from the leachate discharge incident. (more…)