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Summary Judgment Win for Deloitte Consulting in False Claims Act Litigation

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We prevailed at summary judgment for Deloitte Consulting LLP in a qui tam False Claims Act lawsuit alleging that it had defrauded the City of San Diego.

“From the moment this case was filed more than five years ago, we’ve always maintained that it has absolutely no merit. Discovery has proven that. As the Court found, there is no evidence that Deloitte billed the City of San Diego for work it did not do,” said counsel for Deloitte Consulting, Joseph Reiter.

This case arose out of a large, multi-year project the City of San Diego began in 2014 to overhaul its enterprise asset management system. The City hired Deloitte to provide professional consulting services, including the implementation and integration of software designed by co-defendant SAP America, Inc. Plaintiff Thomas Rocco, a former SAP employee, alleged that Deloitte and SAP had violated numerous conflicts of interest laws and conspired to defraud the City of San Diego out of public funds. Rocco claimed, among other things, that Deloitte had billed the City for work it did not perform, exchanged illegal kickbacks with SAP, intentionally concealed conflicts of interest, and rigged the City’s bidding system in violation of California’s False Claims Act and Government Code 1090. Rocco sought to invalidate the contract between Deloitte Consulting and the City and obtain treble damages and fines in excess of $75 million.

We obtained early dismissal of Rocco’s sprawling complaint, winning three successive demurrers and obtaining dismissal with prejudice of all of Rocco’s claims against Deloitte in December 2019. On appeal, the California Court of Appeal affirmed dismissal with prejudice on all but one of Rocco’s theories against Deloitte – that Deloitte had billed the City of San Diego for GIS (geographic information systems) work that Deloitte did not perform. After remittitur, the case proceeded to discovery in the trial court where Hueston Hennigan defeated Rocco’s repeated attempts to revive allegations and theories that had been dismissed with prejudice.

On April 14, 2023, Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly A. Knill granted Hueston Hennigan’s motion for summary judgment on Rocco’s sole remaining claim, finding there is no evidence that Deloitte submitted false claims for payment to the City of San Diego. In addition, the court found that Rocco’s claim is barred by the False Claims Act’s public disclosure bar because he relied on documents obtained from public record act requests. The court’s order reflects a complete victory for Deloitte and maintains the integrity of its work on an important project for the City of San Diego.

The Hueston Hennigan team included John Hueston, Joseph Reiter, Ashley Artmann, and Zach Murray.