Turner v. City and County of San Francisco, Case No. C-11-1427 EMC, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 961 (N.D. Cal. August 29, 2012): The court dismissed the qui tam plaintiff’s claim alleging violations of the California False Claim Act because the plaintiff failed to identify any false claim for payment made by the defendants to the government. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant, the San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW), underbid on survey work to “corner the market” and then overcharged the public for “mapping fund fees” to offset the cost of the low survey bids. The court refused to expand the definition of a false claim to include claims for payment to the members of the general public, and found that the plaintiff failed to show “how overcharging persons other than government entities could constitute a false claim.” Further, the court found that even if the defendants had received such mapping fund fees from other government entities, the complaint failed to allege what was unlawful about the alleged overcharges. The profits that the defendants derived from the mapping fund fees did not render the fees wrongfully inflated. Thus, absent some allegation that the defendants inflated the fees in an unlawful manner, the plaintiff could not plausibly allege a false claim.
15 Apr '13