Judge Allows False Claim Act Lawsuit Against Armstrong to Continue

Mar 3, 2017

A federal judge from the District of Columbia has denied a bid by the attorneys of Lance Armstrong, the seven-time winner of the Tour de France, to have a lawsuit dismissed, which claims that Armstrong violated a federal law when he accepted money from the United States Postal Service (USPS) during his professional career, while all the while using performance-enhancing drugs.
The 2010 lawsuit was filed by one of his former competitors, Floyd Landis, pursuant to the False Claims Act.
Landis and the government claim that USPS paid $32.3 million to sponsor Armstrong’s team, and also paid Armstrong $17 million, while spending almost $40 million appearing as the main title sponsor on several of Armstrong’s teams. The government is seeking treble damages under the Act, meaning Armstrong could potentially be held liable for more than $100 million in damages. Landis stands to receive up to 25 percent of any damages awarded.
In his bid to have the claim dismissed, Armstrong attorney Elliot Peters wrote that “the undisputed evidence, developed over years of intensive discovery, establishes that the government’s damages claims cannot survive.” Additionally, in response to the government’s claim that the sponsorship of Armstrong’s teams was worthless, Peters cited reports commissioned by the USPS he claims establish that it received “at least $165 million in domestic and international media exposure as a result of the cycling team sponsorship between 2001 and 2004.”
While the court relented that Armstrong’s legal team made a “persuasive case,” he added that any decision on damages should be left to a jury.
“Giving Armstrong ‘credit’ for the benefits he delivered while using (performance-enhancing drugs) could be viewed as an unjust reward for having successfully concealed his doping for so long,” the judge wrote. “(But) disregarding any benefits USPS received from the sponsorship could bestow the government with an undeserved windfall. The same could be said of Landis, whose role in this entire affair some would view as less than pure.”
Peters is still convinced that his client will prevail, telling the media that “there is no actual evidence of any quantifiable financial harm (to the Postal Service). So, the government may now proceed to a trial that, as a practical matter, it cannot win.”


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