BLOGS: Western District of Virginia Law Blog

Jason grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia, clerked for Judge Samuel G. Wilson in Roanoke, Virginia, and practices law in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Monday, March 16, 2015, 4:04 PM

Court Denies Stay and Revives FCA Claims Based on "Implied Certification" Theory

In a False Claims Act lawsuit against an armored car manufacturer, Judge Kiser recently denied a motion to stay the case, pending resolution of related criminal charges, and granted a motion for reconsideration, thus reviving FCA claims based on the "implied certification" theory. 

The Complaint alleged that defendant, a government contractor, knew that the vehicles for which it was billing the government did not meet the ballistic protection requirements of its contracts with the government; nevertheless, defendant billed and collected for these vehicles it knew did not meet contract specifications.  Judge Kiser determined that, under U.S. ex rel Badr v. Triple Canopy Inc., 775 F.3d 628 (4th Cir. 2015), these allegations make out a claim for "implied certification" under the False Claims Act.  Judge Kiser had previously granted a motion to dismiss those claims.  However, finding that Triple Canopy constituted a "change in the law," Judge Kiser granted the motion for reconsideration, thus reviving Plaintiff's "implied certification" claims.

The Court also denied defendants' motion to stay because, among other things, plaintiff had an interest in proceeding expeditiously, defendants were seeking what could be an indefinite stay, the Western District of Virginia has a strong policy of efficient and expeditious resolution of cases, and the public has an interest in seeing a swift resolution of the matter.  The Court explained that since plaintiff was accused of defrauding taxpayer money, the public interest is served by investigating the merits and, if plaintiff is found liable, recovering ill-gotten gains.  Likewise, the public interest would be served if plaintiff is not found liable because "[t]he peace of mind that comes with knowing that one has not been defrauded can be just as valuable as recovering any defrauded funds." 

The Court concluded: "Considering all of the factors, a stay is not warranted.  [Defendant] is free to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights in this case.  Doing so places him at no greater disadvantage than every other litigant who wishes to protect his rights."

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015, 10:32 AM

Former Magistrate Judge Crigler Awarded For Leadership By Virginia State Bar

Retired Magistrate Judge Waugh Crigler will receive a Leadership in Education award from the Virginia State Bar.  The award recognizes individuals for leadership in improving and enhancing legal education and professionalism among the academy, bench and bar. 

The Virginia State Bar's announcement explains:
"Crigler has a long and distinguished career as a lawyer, judge, and teacher. He has served as a faculty member for the VSB’s Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Course since 1995. In 1998, he was appointed to the bar’s Standing Committee on Professionalism, and later became its vice chair. He helped to develop a curriculum for a professionalism program that was instituted in all law schools in the commonwealth in 2000. He served as chair or co-chair of the Law School Professionalism program until 2003, and remains an active faculty member for the program.

Crigler has served on the board of governors of the State Bar’s Litigation Section since 2009.  In 2006, he was elected to the board of governors of the State Bar’s Section on the Education of Lawyers in Virginia, and has served as vice chair since 2010. While serving on these boards, Judge Crigler has written numerous articles advancing trial skills and professional and ethical practice."
 Judge Crigler is currently an alternative dispute resolution facilitator at the McCammon Group.

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Monday, March 2, 2015, 1:15 PM

Ruling in First Amendment Suit Strikes Down Charlottesville Panhandling Ordinance

My office off of Charlottesville’s downtown mall provides me with a great view of each day’s activities in this lively pedestrian space.  On any given day,  I can see the street musicians, vendors, or the blindfolded gentleman who gives away free hugs.  However, an interesting First Amendment case out of the Western District of Virginia is likely to ensure even more activity on Charlottesville’s downtown mall. 
In a recent case, Judge Moon found that a Charlottesville ordinance, which prohibits panhandling on the downtown mall, violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.  The challenged ordinance specifically prohibited solicitation in a 50-foot “buffer zone” of portions of the mall.  The suit challenging the ordinance was filed in federal court over three years ago on behalf of several homeless Charlottesville residents and was initially dismissed by Judge Moon.  But after the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts “buffer zone” law last year, localities around the country have seen similar laws overturned by the courts.  In this suit, Judge Moon found that the City improperly focused on panhandlers when creating its ordinance and struck down the ordinance because it prohibits a certain type of speech.  Free speech advocates seem pleased with the ruling, while downtown business owners seem concerned about aggressive solicitation in areas with high foot-traffic. 
For more information on the case, check out a recent Daily Progress article, found here.  

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