Merits Win Not Required, Agreeing With Two Other Decisions As Far As Breadth Of False Claims Act Prevailing Party Definitional Scope.
Dr. Ralph's Pills. Library of Congress.
In Amphastar Pharmaceutical Inc. v. Aventis Pharma SA, Nos. 14-56382/15-56204 (9th Cir. May 11, 2017) (published), the defense won a federal False Claims Act (FCA) qui tam suit based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction, but the district judge would not award it requested attorney’s fees under the federal fee-shifting provision contained at 31 U.S.C. §3730(d)(4) as a prevailing party because no merits adjudication was involved. Handing plaintiff a bitter pill, the Ninth Circuit reversed the fee denial, finding that a “lack of subject matter jurisdiction” victory did qualify as a prevailing party win under the independent grant language of the FCA fee-shifting provision, agreeing with the same conclusion reached by the Tenth Circuit and E.D. Pa. federal court in two other decisions.