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Friday, July 08, 2016

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today, a 2-1 opinion

In Sheet Metal Workers International v. Horning Investments, LLC(SD Ind., Magnus-Stinson), a 17-page, 2-1 opinion, Chief Judge Wood writes:

Horning Investments, LLC, is a roofing company, but this case is about a floor—in particular, the lower limit on wages and benefits imposed by the federal Davis‐ Bacon Act. The dispute concerns a construction project for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Horning was a subcontractor for the project; its workers are represented by Local 20 of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (the Union). Believing that Horning had paid its workers less than the Davis‐Bacon Act requires, the Union sued. Interestingly, however, it did not pursue relief directly under Davis‐Bacon; instead, it filed a qui tam action under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729–3733—the statute at issue in the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Universal Health Servs., Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016).

By choosing the False Claims route, the Union undertook to show that Horning knowingly made false statements (or misleading omissions of the type described in Universal Health Services) that were material to the government’s payment decision. We conclude that the Union did not proffer enough evidence to permit a reasonable jury to conclude that Horning acted with the requisite knowledge. We thus affirm the judgment of the district court in Horning’s favor.

[J.Posner's dissent begins on p. 14, and concludes] In short, it is premature to exonerate Horning.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 8, 2016 11:41 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions