In False Claims Act (FCA) litigation arising from the sale to the U.S. Department of Agriculture of beef processed from the alleged abuse of downer cattle, Westland Meat Co. has reportedly agreed to pay more than $3 million, or most of its owners and investors’ remaining assets.United States ex rel. The Humane Soc’y of the U.S. v. Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., No. 08-0221 (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., judg- ment filed November 27, 2013).
The Humane Society had whistleblower videos showing slaughterhouse employees kicking, beating and dragging disabled cattle to slaughter, prompting the largest recall of beef in U.S. history over bovine spongiform encephalopathy concerns. Details about the video appear in Issue 247 of this Update. The agree- ment apparently reduces the bankrupt company’s liability to some $155 million, from a previous treble-damages judgment of nearly $500 million. According to a news source, the case involved disputed topics under FCA case law: implied certification and damages calculations.See Law360, November 27, 2013.