Federal False Claims Act Cases in Georgia

This page is part four of a series where Tony Munter interviewed Jason Marcus, a False Claims Act attorney in Georgia who handles state and federal cases. Here, Jason Marcus speaks on the environment for federal false claims cases in Georgia. Click here for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
Tony Munter is NOT licensed in the jurisdiction of Georgia.

    Tony:   We talked a lot about the state and I’m wondering about the US Attorney’s office down there. Have you had any experience with them and do you think it’s a good place to file a federal case? I had several cases down there at one point. I know the circuit law in Georgia might not be the most favorable, but how would you talk about federal cases in to have that happen to be filed?
    • Jason:   Well, I think you’re absolutely right about the 11th Circuit. In certain areas, it’s a little better than other circuits, but you run into some strict 9(b) pleading requirements. More strict than in some other circuits. But they have backed off of it considerably in just the last few years. Especially the Northern District of Georgia and the Middle District of Georgia have had an influx of new judges who have looked at the standards from the late ‘90s and said this a little extreme. As far as the US Attorney’s office here, we are very favorable. In the Northern District of Georgia, we’ve had lots of cases with them and they have so much experience that other circuits actually send cases to Atlanta, which just speaks to how well they work.
    • The downside to the Northern District of Georgia is that they have a lot of cases. They’re overworked. Theirs is an office that could double in size and continue to have too many cases. But I think they’re benefiting greatly from having the state Medicaid assistance and more than ever they seem to be intervening in cases and getting sizeable settlements. So we do not hesitate to file them here.

Jason:   The Middle District of Georgia I only have good things to say. The US attorney from the Middle District brought in a gentleman by the name of Chuck Byrd and told him we want to make this a place where people want to file false claims act cases and he has done exactly that.

They have done a tremendous job. And Mr. Byrd has completely changed the attitude of the circuit and of the office and he’s recently brought in two or three new AUSAs to help him. So it’s a small office, but it can be small because it’s not as big an area as Atlanta. It includes Columbus and some of the smaller towns, but they have had some major settlements with hospitals and they’re not afraid to litigate at all. They will intervene in your case and they will take it to trial.

    Tony:     Wow.
    Jason:    They have been fantastic. So that is most of my experience. We haven’t had the privilege of filing too many cases down in the Southern District, simply because it’s Savannah and not a whole lot else. It’s a lot of rural areas. So I can’t really speak to them even though ironically I clerked in the Southern District and there were some false claims act cases while I was there. From my personal experience, I like the judges there very much, but I don’t know the AUSAs down there as well.
    Tony: Your bio says that you wanted to be a lawyer in most of your life. How did you get into the False Claims Act? I’m always curious how people get into the false claims act I got into it by accident and I’m glad I did. But I’m sort of curious– it wasn’t your experience in government? For most people who worked in the government, it was their experience in the government that got them into it. How did you manage to get into this particularly wild and wonderful area of the law?
    • Jason: I wish I had a romantic story about that but I accidentally fell into it as well. I knew I wanted to do work in a small firm as a litigator. I clerked with Federal Magistrate Judge G.R. Smith out of the Southern District and came back to Atlanta where I grew up, and the very first job I applied for happened to be at a False Claims Act law firm. It is perfect for me because we’re always the good guy. You’re never representing the dark side. No one brings a false claims act case out of spite. They bring it because they see something wrong and they want it to be right.

So you’re always helping people and you’re always doing good and I feel like I’m doing my part as an American citizen, which is exciting because not a lot of people get to feel that unless you join the military. And while I certainly won’t compare myself to serving in the military, it’s nice to do a little something for the country.

    Tony: That’s terrific. Thank you so much for your time, Jason.