Court Re-opens Fraud Case Against Planned Parenthood

by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has decided to reinstate a dismissed lawsuit against Planned Parenthood (PP) alleging that it committed fraud by over-charging the government for various birth control drugs that resulted in millions of wasted taxpayer dollars.

The Christian Post is reporting that the case involves P. Victor Gonzalez, a former Planned Parenthood employee who informed authorities that PP affiliates in California were routinely over-billing the government for birth control pills.

However, attorneys for PP were able to convince a federal district court to dismiss Gonzalez’s suit on technical jurisdictional grounds, arguing that he was not an “original source” of the information because he learned of the over-billing only when he heard about it after a government audit. 

As the Post explains, under the federal False Claims Act (FCA), government contractors are forbidden from submitting “false or fraudulent” claims for payment. The FCA also authorizes private individuals to bring suit against the offenders to recover the fraudulently obtained funds, as Gonzalez did in this case.

Attorneys from the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), who are representing Gonzalez, contend that their client fits the description of an “original source” under the FCA. Not only was Gonzalez part of the inner-circle of high ranking officers, he was “personally and intimately aware” of the defendants illegal overbilling. In addition, Gonzalez was personally responsible for PPLA’s records and the preparation of “cost impact information” regarding the extent and magnitude of the overbilling. He was also involved in the preparation of a detailed spreadsheet on the overbilling.

“The question on appeal was whether the former Planned Parenthood employee is a proper whistleblower under the False Claims Act,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the ACLJ. “We contended that the answer is yes, and now a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit has unanimously agreed with us.”

The decision to reopen the case was crucial because it will now allow the case to be tried on the facts.

“While this case is by no means over, winning this appeal means we can now get down to the heart of this case: the alleged fraud,” Sekulow said.

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