The Lance Armstrong sage takes a new twist with the Department of Justice now involved. Reuben Guttman discusses the implications.
Washington, DC -- It looks like the false claims case against Lance Armstrong, which was brought by Floyd Landis, will finally see the light of day.
It is reported that the United States Department of Justice has decided to intervene in the case against Armstrong.
Landis, who brought suit as a whistleblower under the Federal False Claims Act, alleged that Armstrong participated in a scheme to cause the United States Postal Service to wrongfully pay out money to his Tour de France teams.
Lifting the seal
The apparent decision by the United States Department of Justice to intervene on behalf of Landis means that the government will take responsibility for prosecuting what at least now is a civil matter. It also means that the seal will finally be lifted on the case and litigation, to a large degree, will occur in proceedings that are more transparent then they have been.As a technical matter, the case brought by Landis still remains under seal even though it was leaked out to a New York newspaper.The government decision on intervention also probably means that efforts to resolve the case short of full-blown litigation failed.
Unless this matter is resolved in the early stages of litigation, Armstrong will undoubtedly have to participate in court mandated discovery and even submit to a deposition. Unless the court seals the record, the public is likely to hear more about this matter with bloggers salivating about the prospect of reading Armstrong testimony.
Parallel proceedings a possibility
Still looming over Armstrong is the prospect of a criminal indictment. The Government’s decision to pursue the false claims case certainly does not rule out that prospect. The United States Department of Justice often pursues both civil and criminal allegations in what are known as parallel proceedings or investigations.
For now, one thing is sure; the false claims case against Lance Armstrong is about to get more interesting.