Not what you're
looking for? Try an advanced search.
Buy This Entire Record For
U.S. EX REL. TOTTEN v. BOMBARDIER CORP.
March 27, 2001
UNITED STATES, EX REL EDWARD L. TOTTEN, PLAINTIFF,
BOMBARDIER CORPORATION, AND ENVIROVAC INC., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joyce Hens Green, United States District Judge.
On March 16, 1998, Edward L. Totten ("Totten") brought a qui tam action
the False Claims Act ("FCA" or "Act"), 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et.
seq., against Bombardier Corporation ("Bombardier") and Envirovac, Inc.
("Envirovac"). On December 15, 1999, the government declined to
intervene in the case. Currently pending are motions to dismiss by both
of the defendants, in which they argue that this Court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction, that Totten has failed to state a claim, that Totten
has failed to plead fraud with the required particularity, and that some
of Totten' s claims are barred by the statute of limitations. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Totten has failed to state
a claim, and the complaint is dismissed in its entirety.
In considering a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept the factual
allegations contained in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff. The complaint may be dismissed
only if the plaintiff can prove no set of facts consistent with his
allegations which would entitle him to relief. See, e.g., Hishon v. King
& Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236
Totten was formerly employed by the National Railroad Passenger
Corporation ("Amtrak"). Bombardier has contracted with Amtrak to
manufacture passenger rail cars. Envirovac manufactures toilet systems,
and contracts with both Amtrak and Bombardier to provide toilet systems
for passenger rail cars. Amtrak has delineated requirements for its
toilet waste systems, which are contained in Specification 598. These
specifications are incorporated into Amtrak's contracts with Bombardier
Totten states that Envirovac and Bombardier supplied Amtrak with toilet
systems that did not meet the requirements of Specification 598, and
eventually had to be repaired or upgraded. Totten further alleges that
the defendants were aware of the defects in their products, and that
they made false statements to Amtrak that the products met all
requirements and specifications.
The False Claims Act creates liability for any person who knowingly
presents to the government a false or fraudulent claim for payment.
31 U.S.C. § 3729 (a)(1). In 1986 Congress amended the Act by expanding
the definition of "claim" to include requests "made to a contractor,
grantee, or other recipient if the United States Government provides any
portion of the money or property which is requested or demanded, or if
the Government will reimburse such contractor, grantee, or other
recipient for any portion of the money or property which is requested or
demanded." 31 U.S.C. § 3729 (c). Private individuals may bring a qui
tam civil action for a violation of section 3729, on behalf of
themselves and the government. 31 U.S.C. § 2930 (b). The instant
complaint alleges that the defendants knowingly made false claims against
Amtrak, and that both Amtrak and the United States Government were
damaged as a result. The complaint does not articulate any theory as to
why a false claim against Amtrak would constitute a false claim against
In his opposition, Totten responds that a false claim need not be
presented directly to the government, and cites to the expanded
definition of "claim" found in section 3729(c), which includes requests
made to grantees or other recipients of federal funds. The Complaint
does not include any allegations regarding Amtrak's status as a
contractor or grantee, nor does it specifically allege that the
government either provided Amtrak with, or reimbursed Amtrak for, any
funds connected with the alleged false claims. As such, the complaint
fails to state a claim. Ordinarily the Court might permit Totten to
amend the complaint, because it is possible that a heavily government
funded entity, such as Amtrak, might qualify as a grantee under Section
3729(c). See United States ex rel. Yesudian v. Howard University,
153 F.3d 731 (D.C. Cir. 1998).*fn1 However, the defendants have raised a
threshold issue which obviates the need to determine whether Amtrak's
government funding could bring it within the scope of section 3729(c).
B. 49 U.S.C. § 24301(a)(3)
The same provision in Amtrak's authorizing statute which establishes
that Amtrak "is not a department, agency, or instrumentality of the
United States Government" declares that Amtrak "shall not be subject to
title 31." 49 U.S.C. § 24301 (a). The defendants argue that as a
result, the False Claims Act, which is part of title 31, simply does not
apply to Amtrak. As a result, the Act's definition of "claim" could not
apply to requests made to Amtrak, and the Court would not be permitted to
consider whether or not Amtrak's government funding makes it a
"contractor, grantee, or other recipient." Totten counters that his
complaint does not "subject" Amtrak to anything at all, including title
Title 31 occupies two volumes of the United States Code, and includes
chapters which, among other things, establish
the organization and
procedures of the Department of the Treasury, General Accounting Office
and Office of Management and Budget, and establish procedures and
requirements for appropriations, the financial management of the federal
government, the monetary system, government contracts and grants, and
government corporations, including mixed-ownership corporations.
31 U.S.C. § 1-9702. Title 31 is primarily concerned with government
entities, however, portions of it regulate private recipients of
government funding. See, e.g., 31 U.S.C. § 1352 (restrictions and
reporting requirements on lobbying by recipients of federal contracts,
grants, or loans). Interpretation of a statute begins with its plain
meaning, despite the fact that removing Amtrak from the reach of title
31 could have potentially sweeping consequences. See Connecticut Nat'l
Bank v. Germain, 503 U.S. 249, 253-54 (1992); ITT World Comm., Inc. v.
FCC, 725 ...
Buy This Entire Record For