In March, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear argument in an appeal that questions whether requests for reimbursement under the federal E-Rate program submitted prior to the effective date of the FERA amendments constitute actionable claims under the False Claims Act. Generally speaking, the appeal questions whether FCA liability exists where the funds used to reimburse E-Rate applicants are paid by private telecommunications carriers into a fund (the Universal Service Fund) that is administered by a private corporation (the Universal Service Administrative Company). Because the funds are paid by private carriers into a fund managed by a private corporation, the Court of Appeals will decide whether a request for reimbursement constitutes a “claim” for payment submitted to the U.S. government or other statutorily authorized agent. Partners Jeff Belkin and Andy Howard represent one of the appellants in the appeal.
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