$33.6 Million Qui Tam Judgment against Gosselin World Wide Moving
In early August, a federal jury found Gosselin World Wide Moving NV and its executive Mark Smet liable for submitting false claims in 2001 and 2002 to the U.S. government to the tune of $33.6 million, which, when trebled per the federal False Claims Act, rises to $100.8 million. The jury also held that Gosselin submitted nearly 59,000 false claims, which are now subject to penalties under the federal False Claims Act. The parties continue to litigate the matter.
Relator Kurt Bunk, a German employee of one of the defendant shipping companies, filed a qui tam suit against Gosselin in 2002; American Ray Ammons, who owned a freight-forwarding company, filed a similar lawsuit in 2007. Both alleged that Gosselin, as a subcontractor to the Department of Defense, and Smet conspired and submitted false claims to the government while moving military personnel’s household items overseas to Germany and back.
The cases are U.S., ex rel. Bunk v. Gosselin World Wide Moving, Case No. 1:02-cv-01168, and U.S., ex rel. Ammons v. Gosselin World Wide Moving NV, Case No. 1:07-cv-01198. Both are filed in the Eastern District of Virginia.
In a separate qui tam case filed under the federal False Claims Act, Gosselin was found liable for a $24 million civil penalty payment for submitting false claims as a direct contractor to the Department of Defense. While the trial court declined to impose the statutory per-claim penalty, considering it a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment’s ban on excessive fines, the Fourth Circuit reversed course in December 2013 and reinstated the penalty, noting that high penalties act as a fraud deterrent. Gosselin has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review this ruling.