Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
August 21, 2013, Decided
Civil Action No. 09-2388 (KBJ)
Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint that Relator Pengcheng Si (hereinafter "Si" or "Relator") has filed pursuant to the False Claims Act ("FCA"), 31 U.S.C. § 3729 (2012). (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss ("Defs.' Mot"), ECF No. 29; Compl., ECF No. 2.) Defendants are Si's alleged former employers—the China Information Center and Laogai Research Foundation, two non-profits that [*2] receive government grant funding—as well as their director, Harry Wu, and his wife, Chinglee Chen. (Compl. ¶¶ 9-14.) Defendants move to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted with sufficient specificity under Rules 12(b)(6) and 9(b). (Mem. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss ("Defs.' Mem."), ECF No. 30, at 1.) The Court held a hearing on Defendants' motion to dismiss on August 20, 2013.
The gravamen of Si's complaint is that Defendants engaged in a scheme to defraud the government from 2001 through 2008 by, among other things, fraudulently inducing grant contracts by providing false information about employees' backgrounds, reporting salaries for individuals who never performed work, using grant funding for personal expenses, and engaging in lobbying activity in violation of the grant contract. (See, e.g., Compl. ¶¶ 31, 41, 44, 47.) Si sets forth sixty-three paragraphs of factual allegations that he maintains support the following five FCA counts: presentment of false or fraudulent claims for payment or approval under 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1)(A) (Count [*3] I); knowing use of false records and statements to get false claims paid or approved under 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1)(B) (Count II); knowing use of a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay and/or knowing concealment or improper avoidance of an obligation to pay or transmit money to the government under 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1)(G) (Count III); conspiracy to defraud the government under 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1)(C) (Count IV); and retaliatory termination under 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h) (Count V). (Compl. ¶¶ 64-82.)
Each count realleges and incorporates by reference all sixty-three paragraphs of factual background; there is no indication of the specific facts pertaining to each claim. (Id. ¶¶ 64-82.) This is not enough to meet the plausibility standard for notice pleading under Rule 8, let alone the standard for particularity under Rule 9(b). See Rice v. District of Columbia, 774 F. Supp. 2d 25, 33 (D.D.C. 2011) ("An individual count must contain a plausible recitation of enough facts to support it." (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)); U.S. v. Kellogg Brown & Root Servs., Inc., 800 F. Supp. 2d 143, 153 (D.D.C. 2011) (a false claim allegation is an averment of fraud, [*4] so the heightened pleading requirement of Rule 9(b) applies). The instant complaint is insufficient because it is not clear which allegations pertain to which count, rendering the Court unable to determine whether Si states a claim for relief under each count with sufficient specificity. See Rice, 774 F. Supp. 2d at 33.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118634 *; 2013 WL 4478953
PENCHENG SI, Plaintiff, v. LAOGAI RESEARCH FOUNDATION, et al., Defendants.
Subsequent History: Dismissed by, in part Si v. Laogai Research Found., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146079 (D.D.C., Oct. 14, 2014)
motion to dismiss, false claim, particularity, leave to amend, allegations, sufficiently specific, grant leave to amend, amended complaint, obligation to pay, sixty-three, fraudulent, recitation, defraud, pertain, counts, moot