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Civil Division

NOTICE-Service of Process on the United States Attorney in Civil Cases

AUSAs in the Civil Division represent the United States in civil law suits in state and federal courts throughout the SDTX. The assigned attorney remains responsible for a civil case from the trial court proceedings through appellate review at the U.S. Courts of Appeals. Representation can be for the U.S. as plaintiff or a creditor in bankruptcy proceedings and for the U.S. as a defendant or its officers or employees as defendants.

Our lawyers:

  • Protect the U.S. Treasury against monetary claims such a tort cases, assure appropriate payments for meritorious claims, maximize monetary recovery for injury and damages to federal property and assert the federal government’s interest in defensive litigation
  • Recover money owed to the federal government as the result of fraud, loan and contract defaults, and unsatisfied judgments and combat health care fraud through the  vigorous implementation of civil remedies provided by the False Claims Act.
  • Ensure the government’s interests are fully protected in bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Condemn land for federal projects.
  • Defend the United States in immigration matters,  challenges to federal programs,  policy initiatives and statutes, and enforce remedies for violations of statutory-based federal programs.
  • Bring affirmative actions to ensure compliance with federal civil rights laws.

Defensive Litigation

Our defensive litigation team handles cases brought against the United States and its employees. These cases include tort, employment, immigration, environmental claims and claims for federal benefits. We handle our own appeals. We also handle land condemnation matters for federal agencies, including the border fence litigation for the Department of Homeland Security.

Affirmative Civil Enforcement

Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE) AUSAs handle cases brought pursuant to civil laws designed to combat fraud and hold accountable those who cheat the United States. The False Claims Act (FCA) is one of the main mechanisms ACE AUSAs use and the United States relies on the FCA to prosecute parties who defraud the government. The ACE Unit handles cases based on independent analysis and investigation and cases brought under the qui tam provisions of the FCA. The FCA permits private citizens with knowledge of fraud to present those claims to the United States by way of qui tam lawsuits filed in federal district court. If a judgment is entered in favor of the United States, or the case is settled and the United States recovers monies, the private citizen may be entitled to share in any recovery.

ACE AUSAs also pursue civil remedies (such as penalties and injunctive and declaratory relief) to combat drug diversion (such as misuse of controlled substances that are not illegal per se but are commonly sold and used illegally.) The Controlled Substances Act regulates persons and companies that manufacture, distribute and dispense controlled substances in order to prevent diversion. The CSA provides for “registration of manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and others in the legitimate distribution chain, and makes transactions outside the legitimate distribution chain illegal.”

Representative ACE recoveries include:

Health Care Fraud

Alliance Family of Companies – Alliance paid the United States $13.5 million to settle allegations it illegally paid physicians to refer patients for ambulatory EEG procedures.

Cardiac Imaging – Cardiac Imaging Inc., headquartered in Illinois, and its founder, owner and CEO Sam Kancherlapalli, a resident of Florida, paid a total of $85,480,000 to resolve FCA allegations that they paid referring cardiologists excessive fees to supervise PET scans in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Physician Self-Referral Law. This was the largest single district civil settlement in the history of the Southern District of Texas.

Cornerstone Healthcare Group Holding Inc. and CHG Hospital Medical Center LLC. dba Cornerstone Hospital Medical Center – The defendants paid the United States $21,637,512 to resolve claims that the company improperly billed Medicare for unauthorized services, services not provided and services which were deemed so inadequate they were considered worthless. In addition, Cornerstone Medical Center submitted claims for payment for services certain treating physicians allegedly rendered. However, records showed those physicians were out of the country and could not have performed the services.

Defense Procurement Fraud:

United States ex rel. Jacobson v. Crane Co. Crane Co. paid the United States just over $4.5 million to settle allegations that it falsely represented that its line of butterfly valves sold to the Navy for seagoing vessels complied with military specifications related to engineering, design and materials when in fact the valves did not.

Grant Fraud:  

William Marsh Rice University – Rice paid the United States just over $3.75 million to settle allegations that it improperly charged graduate students’ salaries, tuition and related indirect charges to National Science Foundation research grants for time the graduate students spent performing teaching duties unrelated to the research grants.

COVID-19 Fraud:

Dr. Emad Bishai – Dr. Bishai paid the United States $148,626 to resolve allegations that he misrepresented his criminal history in his Paycheck Protection Program loan application.

Drug Diversion:

Woodfield Pharmacy – Adam Runsdorf and his companies, Florida-based drug wholesaler Woodfield Distribution LLC and associated operations in Texas, surrendered their seven DEA registrations and agreed to pay $2.475 million in civil fines to resolve violations of the CSA. CSA requirements are designed to prevent the diversion of controlled substances.

For more information - Affirmative Civil Enforcement

Civil Rights Section

The Civil Rights Section is committed to the enforcement of our nation’s civil rights laws. The Section takes a proactive approach and works with the public, state, federal and local government agencies, and with community organizations to identify and remedy civil rights violations. Additionally, the Civil Rights Section engages in outreach to the civil rights community and the public to gather information to assist them in identifying appropriate matters for investigation or litigation, if necessary.

The Civil Rights Section pursues enforcement actions in many areas, including anti-discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, disability rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, fair housing and fair lending under the Fair Housing Act, and service members’ rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

Representative Civil Rights matters include:

Houston Rodeo and NRG Park – The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, along with NRG Park, agreed to correct numerous ADA violations under Title III of the Civil Rights Act, including accessible parking, accessible seating, accessible facilities and accessible routes.

University of Houston – The University of Houston agreed to correct numerous issues that were inconsistent with Title II of the ADA regarding the accessibility of its primary online learning management system.

For additional information, including contact information and a complaint form - Civil Rights Section


Updated March 6, 2024