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United States ex rel. Landis v. Tailwind Sports Corp.

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

April 9, 2015

UNITED STATES ex rel. LANDIS, Plaintiffs,
v.
TAILWIND SPORTS CORP., et al., Defendants

For FLOYD LANDIS, United States of America ex rel., Plaintiff: Lani Anne Remick, Paul D. Scott, PRO HAC VICE, Jon Linden Praed, LAW OFFICES OF PAUL D. SCOTT, P.C., San Francisco, CA.

For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Intervenor Plaintiff: Darrell C. Valdez, Mercedeh Momeni, LEAD ATTORNEYS, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC; David Michael Finkelstein, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Civil Fraud Section, Washington, DC; Robert E. Chandler, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Civil Division, Fraud Section, Washington, DC.

For TAILWIND SPORTS CORPORATION, TAILWIND SPORTS, LLC, Defendants: Blair Gerard Brown, LEAD ATTORNEY, Rachel F. Cotton, ZUCKERMAN SPAEDER, LLP, Washington, DC.

For CAPITAL SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT HOLDINGS, INC., WILLIAM J. STAPLETON, BARTON B. KNAGGS, Defendants: Marc S. Harris, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, SCHEPER KIM & HARRIS LLP, Los Angeles, CA; John Patrick Pierce, THEMIS PLLC, Washington, DC.

For THOMAS W. WEISEL, ROSS INVESTMENTS, INC., Defendants: Brendan P. Cullen, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, SULLIVAN & CROMWELL, LLP, Palo Alto, CA; Robert A. Sacks, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, SULLIVAN & CROMWELL LLP, Los Angeles, CA; Christopher Michael Viapiano, SULLIVAN & CROMWELL, LLP, Washington, DC.

For LANCE ARMSTRONG, Defendant: Elliot R. Peters, R. James Slaughter, Sharif E. Jacob, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, KEKER & VAN NEST, LLP, San Franisco, CA; John W. Keker, LEAD ATTORNEY, KEKER & VAN NEST, LLP, San Francisco, CA; Robert David Luskin, LEAD ATTORNEY, Benjamin Dalrymple Wood, PATTON BOGGS LLP, Washington, DC; Tia A. Sherringham, PRO HAC VICE, KEKER & VAN NEST, LLP, San Franisco, CA.

For JOHAN BRUYLEEN, Defendant: Thomas Edwin Zeno, LEAD ATTORNEY, SQUIRE SANDERS (U.S.) LLP, Washington, DC; Rebecca A. Worthington, SQUIRE SANDERS (U.S.) LLP, Washington, DC.

Page 9

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER, United States District Judge.

Former professional cyclist Floyd Landis, the relator in this qui tam action, wishes to settle his claims against his ex-teammate Lance Armstrong's agents and their company, Capital Sports and Entertainment (" CSE Defendants" ). The United States, which has intervened in Landis' claims against Armstrong but not his claims against the CSE Defendants, objects to the proposed settlement on its current terms. The question before the Court is whether Landis and the CSE Defendants may settle those claims over the Government's objection. While it might seem counterintuitive that the Government can effectively veto a settlement of claims it has chosen not to join, the False Claims Act itself and the majority of circuits that have addressed the question say otherwise. Until the United States, through the Attorney General, provides its written consent, the Court may not approve

Page 10

the settlement or order the voluntary dismissal of the CSE Defendants. The Court must therefore deny the CSE Defendants' motion to approve the settlement.

I. Background

The False Claims Act (" FCA" ) permits private citizens to bring actions " in the name of the Government" to enforce its provisions and provides for these " relators" to receive a share of the proceeds of successful actions. 31 U.S.C. ยง 3730. In June 2010, relator Floyd Landis filed this FCA suit against Lance Armstrong, his former teammate on the U.S. Postal Service-sponsored professional cycling team, and a number of other individuals and entities associated with the team. The suit alleges that the defendants submitted claims for sponsorship payments of more than $40 million to the Postal Service while knowing that members of the team had used performance enhancing drugs in violation of their sponsorship agreement. The United States elected to intervene against Armstrong and certain other defendants in February 2013, but did not intervene against the CSE Defendants. United States' Notice of Election to Intervene in Part at 1. Landis and the CSE Defendants recently reached a settlement agreement. Joint Stipulation of Dismissal Ex. A. The Government, however, has notified the Court that it does not consent to the ...


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