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United States ex rel. Nguyen v. Cleveland, City of

Citation: 35 ELR 20200
No. Nos. 1:00CV208, 1:03CV1563, (N.D. Ohio, 09/30/2005)

A court dismisses an individual's qui tam action against various airports for certifying that their actions complied with various environmental laws in order to obtain funds from the Federal Aviation Administration. Specifically, the individual argued that the airports' deicing operations violated the Clean Air Act because they never obtained Title V permits for their emissions of ethylene and propylene glycol and that they violated the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act by failing to notify certain local and federal government agencies about their discharge of these chemicals in quantities that he maintains exceeded acceptable levels. Violations of federal environmental laws, alone, do not support False Claims Act claims; thus, an entity that unwittingly violates an environmental law and then certifies compliance does not necessarily violate the False Claims Act. Here, no reasonable juror could conclude that the airports knowingly presented false data to the government regarding the environmental effects of their deicing operations. The individual's fraud-based claims must therefore be dismissed.