The whistleblower case against Lance Armstrong filed by his former racing partner, Floyd Landis, is really heating up. Armstrong didn’t admit to doping while racing for America’s U.S. Postal Service team until 2013 but unbeknownst to anyone, teammate Floyd Landis disclosed the team’s rampant drug use in a whistleblower complaint against Armstrong back in 2010. Landis claimed Armstrong defrauded the Postal Service because he was using performance enhancing drugs in violation of his contract. Fast forward to 2016 and Landis’ case against Armstrong is coming to a head. Ditto for the bitter words and rhetoric.
Whistleblower cases are filed under seal meaning they are secret. Cases remain secret while being investigated by the feds. Only upon a court order can the case be disclosed. Although the purpose of the sealing order is to give the government the opportunity to investigate, the seal has a second benefit of giving the whistleblower some anonymity.
Since Landis filed his suit in 2010, we now know the feds knew about Armstrong’s doping for years before he finally came clean on national television about his drug use.
The post office poured millions of dollars into promoting the American team in the annual Tour de France bicycle race. Landis claims that the government would never have promoted the team had it known that team members were doping.
For a brief time last year we thought the case might be settling. In 2015, A British paper reported that the case was settled for $10 million. Those reports were false, however.
In April of this year, Armstrong asked a federal judge to entirely dismiss the lawsuit against him for technical reasons. Since his public drug use confession he can’t deny the drug use but says that he never made any misrepresentations to the government. His lawyers claimed that “Armstrong had no role in causing the submission of invoices to the USPS for payment under the Sponsorship Agreements, nor did he have any role in the government’s payment of those invoices.” Incredibly, Armstrong also claims that the Post Office received $333 million in positive publicity from having him on the team.
What do Landis and The Department of Justice have to day? Plenty!
Landis said in a July 11th court filing,
“To hear the defendants tell the story, the United States should be indebted to them. If not for their conduct, say the defendants, the United States never would have received multiple millions of dollars in media impressions and other so-called benefits that resulted from their scheme. But when all the lawyering and sophistry is stripped away, defendants’ argument is just another illusion, for at bottom it assumes the United States should be forced to attribute value to something it never asked for and, indeed, could not have wanted less — direct and infamous association with notorious dopers, liars and cheats. This is not the law.”
In the words of the Justice Department, “Armstrong argues… that he was worth even more to the USPS as a drug-fueled cheat.“
The Postal Service paid over $40 million to sponsor the U.S. cycling team. Approximately $20 million went to Armstrong himself. The post office says it hoped that by sponsoring the team, the public would associate Armstrong’s heroic qualities with the the Postal Service brand. Part of the contract between the team and the post office was that team members wouldn’t use illegal drugs.
False Claims Act and Whistleblower Awards
Landis’ whistleblower lawsuit was filed under the federal False Claims Act. That law allows a whistleblower such as Landis to receive a cash award for bringing the fraud to light. Awards are generally between 15% and 30% of whatever the government collects. Because the law allows for triple damages, the government may seek as much as 100 million.
If you have inside information about fraud involving government funds or a government program, you may be entitled to an award. Whistleblowers are also entitled to protection against retaliation.
Ready to become a whistleblower or simply want more information? Give us a call. We love what we do and enjoy speaking to would be whistleblowers. Our clients have received over $100 million in awards. And everything you tell us is protected by the attorney – client privilege, even if you don’t hire us.
For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731. No fee, no obligation. You can also visit our False Claims Act page for more information.
MahanyLaw – America’s Whistleblower Lawyers