Federal Judge Sides with Lance Armstrong’s False Claims

lance armstrongLance Armstrong Gets Judicial Approval for False Claims in Books

A group of former Lance Armstrong fans took the professional cyclist to court over claims in his books that turned out to be false, but on Tuesday, September 10th, they lost the False Claims case in California.

US District Court Judge Morrison England sided with Lance Armstrong and the defendants, who claimed that any false statements made in Armstrong’s books were protected First Amendment free speech, and not a violation of the False Claims Act.

“The Court concludes, despite plaintiffs’ allegations that the Armstrong books contained false and misleading statements, that the content of the books is afforded full First Amendment protection,” England wrote.

The best-selling books perpetuated what the professional cycling world now knows to be a lie – that Lance Armstrong never took performance-enhancing drugs. The athlete is currently in court as part of a whistleblower lawsuit claiming he defrauded the United States government, because the postal service sponsored him for several years and he told his sponsors specifically that he did not take illegal drugs.

The issue in the latest case had to do not with Armstrong’s right to Free Speech, but whether the content of his books could be classified as commercial free speech, which is not protected by the First Amendment. Plaintiffs claim that the False Claims in Armstrong’s books were used to deceive consumers into purchasing them, and following Lance Armstrong’s career.

However, the judge rejected the claims in his ruling.

“The promotional materials relating to the Books are inextricably intertwined with the books’ contents, which is non-commercial speech,” England wrote. “Thus, these promotional materials are also entitled to full First Amendment protection as noncommercial speech.”

This lawsuit is one of five fraud cases that have been filed against Lance Armstrong since his confession on the Oprah Winfrey show. His answers in the other fraud cases are due at the end of the month.

Filing a Whistleblower Lawsuit Under the False Claims Act

Under the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act, the relator (plaintiff) files an action on behalf of the U.S. Government. The False Claims Act allows a wide variety of people and entities to file a qui tam action.

An employee who blows the whistle on his or her employer (commonly known as a “whistleblower”) is one of the most common types of relators. Many employees normally file qui tam actions against their employers after repeated attempts to resolve the issues internally have met with negative results. This can be as simple as an employee calling into a compliance hotline or something as serious as reporting the incident to a supervisor. However, employees who file a qui tam action, or those that assist in furthering an action, are legally protected against job retaliation by the employer.

The Strom Law Firm Protects Whistleblowers in False Claims Cases in South Carolina

To bring a qui tam action under the statute, an individual must have personal knowledge and actual evidence of fraud. Successful qui tam claimants will be rewarded a portion of the money the government recovers.

If you have direct knowledge of fraud against the government and believe you have a qui tam or whistleblower case, whether it is against a for-profit long term care facility, a technology corporation, or financial institution, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free, confidential consultations so you can discuss the facts of your case with impunity. Contact us today. 803.252.4800