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False-Claims Suit Doesn’t Hinder Judgment for US

(CN) - On a question of first impression, the 9th Circuit ruled that a whistleblower's claim against the government for her share of a false-claim judgment does not interfere with the finality of the lower court's decision to grant summary judgment to the United States.

Judy Shutt filed a false-claim action against Nida Campanilla, the owner of a nursing agency that received more than $2.77 million in Medicare reimbursements from 2003 to 2004.

Campanilla pleaded guilty to one count of health-care fraud, admitting that she made illegal payments to doctors, patients and marketers, and forged physicians' signatures on Medicare forms, among other forms of scamming the system. Her false claims cost the government more than $608,000, for which she agreed to pay restitution.

Several months later, the government intervened in the case.

The district court awarded the government $5,500 and treble damages, but dismissed its common-law claims while retaining jurisdiction over Shutt's claim for a share of the judgment.

The 9th Circuit, for the first time, determined that the district court's ruling was final and appealable, even though it retained jurisdiction over Shutt's FCA claim for a slice of the judgment.

The federal appeals court in San Francisco affirmed partial summary judgment for the government.

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