Whistleblower George Gage has made it clear he is not happy with the current judge for his qui tam case, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks. Gage claims that throughout his False Claims Act (FCA) case against Rolls-Royce North America Inc., Judge Sparks has handed down orders that attempt to divest him of jurisdiction in order to try and have Gage’s case thrown out before Rolls-Royce submitted an answer. He has tried two different ways to obtain a different judge on his case and each time has failed. That is because it takes a great deal of evidence of bias or impartiality to get a judge taken off a case.
If you are currently part of a qui tam case and believe the judge is not able to be partial, contact the experienced California qui tam attorneys of Brod Law Firm as soon as possible.
Gage’s Attempts for a New Judge
Gage is accusing Rolls-Royce of improperly billing the U.S. Air Force for uncertified parts taken from crashed aircraft and used under a maintenance contract. He believes the parts were neither certified nor was the Air Force warned that they were taken from crashed aircrafts. Gage claims he discovered evidence of Rolls-Royce’s fraud while acting as a lead investigator within Rolls-Royce’s defense team for a previous lawsuit.
In May, Gage sought to have his qui tam case transferred to U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who handled the previous Rolls-Royce lawsuit. This request was denied as there was no connection between the two lawsuits and transferring venue within the same district was unnecessary. Next, Gage filed a motion to have Judge Sparks recused for impartiality. The motion stated the judge’s actions represented anger toward Gage and an inability to read the docket correctly. This motion was denied too. U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra, who handled this request, said there was no evidence that Judge Sparks had any animosity toward Gage or of bias or prejudice.
Ultimately, if Gage wants to move forward with his FCA claims against Rolls-Royce, he will have to do so in Judge Sparks’ courtroom.
Seeking a Judge’s Removal
There are many times when one or both of the parties to a lawsuit may not like a judge. However, disagreeing with a judge’s decisions is not enough of a reason to ask for his or her removal from a case. For a judge to be disqualified from a case, there must be evidence of that the judge:
- Has a personal bias or prejudice concerning that party
- Has personal knowledge of disputed facts within the case
- Previously worked as a lawyer in or related to the controversial matter
- Previously worked as a government employee and worked as a counsel, advisor, or material witness in a related matter or expressed an opinion regarding the merits of the current case
- Has a financial interest in the controversial matter
- Or his spouse or a person within a third-degree of relationship is involved in the matter or has a substantial interest in it
Do You Need Legal Advice?
If you are currently part of a qui tam case and you suspect the judge is biased against you or has too close of a connection to the subject matter or another party involved in the suit, contact an experienced San Francisco qui tam attorney from Brod Law Firm at (800) 427-7020. We can carefully review your situation to determine if it would be appropriate to motion for the judge in your case to be removed.
(image courtesy of Christina Sicoli)