Third Circuit Holds that Certification Must Be a Condition of Payment

By: Joel Androphy, Rachel Grier, and Stephanie Gutheinz 

In Rodriguez v. Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, the Third Circuit noted that it has declined to adopt either an express or implied false certification theory.  The court further held that even if it did adopt such a theory, FCA liability will not attach unless the relator shows that a defendant’s certification of compliance with applicable regulations is a condition of payment of federal funds.  Under the express false certification theory, a defendant is liable for falsely certifying its compliance with statutory or regulatory requirements in connection with the receipt of federal funds.  Under an implied certification theory, FCA liability can attach even when the defendant has not expressly certified that it complied with the regulations that it violated.  While declining to adopt either false certification theory, the Third Circuit noted that, under either false certification theory, it is still the relator’s burden to demonstrate that the defendant failed to comply with applicable regulations, and that the payment of federal funds was conditioned on compliance with those regulations.  In affirming the dismissal of the case, the court held that the relator did not satisfy this burden because the relator did not even suggest a connection between certification and condition of payment.

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