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A proposal to expand the False Claims Act will be debated this week. On Feb. 27, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on legislation that would make it easier for plaintiffs to file suit alleging government fraud, waste, and abuse. Among the legal minds invited to testify is John Boese, a D.C. litigation defense partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Boese says the bill goes too far, allowing the federal claims law to come into play whenever federal money is involved. “I’m testifying that some amendments have not been carefully thought out, and they should not be added,” says Boese. “They are essentially taking state contract and tort law and rolling them into federal statutes.” Boese faces a tough sale: Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the committee’s ranking Republican, co-sponsored the bill. They’ve said recent court decisions — like the Custer Battles case, which involved alleged fraud by a company hired by Iraq’s Coalition Provisional Authority and was dismissed last year — have weakened the law. “This would remove a series of technicalities for those who get away with stealing taxpayer funds,” says Michael Sullivan, a plaintiffs lawyer at Atlanta’s Finch McCranie, who is not testifying before the committee.
Nathan Carlile can be contacted at ncarlil[email protected].

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