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

United States District Court, District of Columbia

June 8, 2016

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


          CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER United States District Judge

         On June 19, 2014, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion granting in part the CSE Defendants’ motion to dismiss Relator Floyd Landis’s Second Amended Complaint. See ECF No. 174.[1] In doing so, it considered whether the False Claims Act’s ("FCA’s") tolling provision applies to relators’ claims as to which the United States has not intervened. That provision reads as follows:

(b) A civil action under section 3730 may not be brought-
(1) more than 6 years after the date on which the violation of section 3729 is committed, or
(2) more than 3 years after the date when facts material to the right of action are known or reasonably should have been known by the official of the United States charged with responsibility to act in the circumstances, but in no event more than 10 years after the date on which the violation is committed,
whichever occurs last.

31 U.S.C. § 3731(b). After thorough briefing on the issue-and fully accounting for the split of authority among lower courts-the Court adopted the "majority approach": that the FCA’s tolling provision does not apply to relators’ non-intervened claims. Mem. Op. of June 19, 2014, at 28, 30. The Court reasoned that it would "def[y] logic to hinge the tolling question on when the responsible governmental official possessed sufficient knowledge to act, when in reality that governmental official has chosen not to act." Id. at 30. Because the government had not intervened against the CSE Defendants, the Court concluded that Relator could recover against them only for allegedly false claims submitted on or after June 10, 2004-not on or after June 10, 2000, as the tolling provision would have allowed.

         Relator has moved the Court to reconsider this portion of its prior Memorandum Opinion. His motion is "based on" two Supreme Court opinions-one decided before the Memorandum Opinion was issued, and one after-and "is further supported by" a recent decision of this Court. Mem. Supp. Relator’s Mot. Reconsideration 3 ("Mot. Reconsideration"), ECF No. 497. Relator also repeats arguments he made at the motion-to-dismiss stage and raises others for the first time. Because Relator has not met the stringent standard for reconsidering interlocutory orders, the Court will deny his motion.[2]

         A. Legal Standard

         Under the so-called "law of the case" doctrine, "when a court decides upon a rule of law, that decision should continue to govern the same issues in subsequent stages in the same case." Arizona v. California, 460 U.S. 605, 618 (1983); see also LaShawn A. v. Barry, 87 F.3d 1389, 1393 (D.C. Cir. 1996) ("[T]he same issue presented a second time in the same case in the same court should lead to the same result."). The doctrine, as such, does not technically apply to interlocutory orders such as the partial granting of a motion to dismiss. Langevine v. Dist. of Columbia, 106 F.3d 1018, 1023 (D.C. Cir. 1997). And under Rule 54(b), the Court’s earlier decision "may be revised at any time before the entry of a [final] judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). In a sense, then, the Court is "free to reconsider" its analysis on the FCA tolling issue. Filebark v. U.S. Dep’t of Transp., 555 F.3d 1009, 1013 (D.C. Cir. 2009).

         But "this is not to say that district courts should take lightly reconsideration of the orders of their colleagues." Moore v. Hartman, 332 F.Supp.2d 252, 256 (D.D.C. 2004). Although Rule 54(b) does not specify the standard of review applicable to motions for reconsideration of interlocutory orders, they should be reconsidered only "as justice requires." United States v. Slough, 61 F.Supp. 3d 103, 107 (D.D.C. 2014) (quoting United States v. Coughlin, 821 F.Supp.2d 8, 18 (D.D.C. 2011)). That phrase is a doctrinal term of art-in deciding whether "justice requires" reversal of its prior interlocutory order, a court may consider whether it

[1] patently misunderstood a party, [2] has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, [3] has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension, or [4] whe[ther] a controlling or significant change in the law or facts [has occurred] since the submission of the issue to the Court.

Singh v. George Washington Univ., 383 F.Supp.2d 99, 101 (D.D.C. 2005). Under a slightly different formulation, a court should "grant a motion for reconsideration of an interlocutory order only when the movant demonstrates: (1) an intervening change in the law; (2) the discovery of new evidence not previously available; or (3) a clear error in the first order." BEG Invs., LLC v. Alberti, 85 F.Supp. 3d 54, 58 (D.D.C. 2015) (quoting Stewart v. Panetta, 826 F.Supp.2d 176, 177 (D.D.C. 2011)). District courts should "be guided by the general principles underlying the [law-of-the-case] doctrine" in applying these ...

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