Today, an unpublished opinion by the Eleventh Circuit was picked up and electronically circulated by LexisNexis. In the case, Mitchell v. Beverly Enterprises, Inc., Civil Action N0. 07-12055, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 21794 (11th Cir. Sept. 7, 2007), there is a very short per curiam affirmance of a lower court’s dismissal on Rule 9(b).
Citing to its own breathtakingly bizarre precedents introducing the substantive Rule 9(b) to the FCA context, Clausen and Corsello, the Eleventh Circuit summarily affirms the lower court’s decision. Even though the complaint alleges that the Relator observed and participated in the billing process, even though the complaint alleges billing procedures that take the information and pass it thorugh to bills to Medicare without alteration, and even though in Clausenwhere this entire mess began the Court said that this type of indicia of reliability of the claim that bills were submitted would be enough (and specifically mentioned billing policies), this case was summarily dismissed.
The disingenuous nature of the substantive Rule 9(b) cases as applied to the various complaints is found in the final paragraph of the opinion. “[W]e agree with the district court that Mitchell did not assert that Beverly actually submitted false clalims to Medicare with sufficient particularity and the required reliability to meet the standard under Rule 9(b) for complaints under the False Claims Act.” (emphasis added). In other words, because the plaintiff failed to present proof of the “assertion” in the complaint, it wasn’t “specific” enough. For fifty years, plaintiffs were expressly protected from having to prove their case at the pleading stage. Now, without proof of the most elusive allegation in the complaint, they are summarily discharged.