Court Grants Robbins Russell’s Motion to Dismiss False Claims Act Complaint

At a hearing on October 6, 2020, Judge Terry Corrigan of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida granted a motion to dismiss filed by Robbins Russell on behalf of client Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding (“NNS”).  NNS faced a False Claims Act action alleging that it and co-defendant General Dynamics Electric Boat had violated the False Claims Act (“FCA”) by failing to appropriately audit and inspect pipe fittings provided by a subcontractor Nuflo Inc.  According to the qui tam relator’s allegations, NNS’s poor quality oversight allowed defective pipe fittings to be installed on aircraft carriers and Virginia Class submarines built by NNS for the U.S. Navy.

In his ruling, Judge Corrigan agreed with Robbins Russell that the Complaint against NNS lacked the particularity required under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b).  As a corporate outsider with no knowledge of NNS billing practices, the qui tam relator could not identify the false claim or provide the indicia of reliability that a false claim had been submitted to the United States.  The Court dismissed without prejudice, allowing the relator one more chance to cure the complaint’s deficiencies while noting that this would be a “tough” task for the relator.

Robbins Russell partners Michael Waldman and Lee Friedman, along with associates John Goerlich and Carolyn Forstein, represent Newport News Shipbuilding in this matter.

Read the Law360.com article (subscription required).