A federal judge on Thursday blocked a settlement between two of Lance Armstrong’s associates and Floyd Landis ruling that the government “can effectively veto a settlement of claims” in the case.
For $600,000, the deal would have dismissed Bill Stapleton, Armstrong’s longtime agent, and Barton Knaggs, Armstrong’s longtime business partner, from a false-claims lawsuit filed by Landis in 2010. The settlement would not have included Armstrong.
The defense attorneys responded to the government’s decision, writing that it was “a nebulous ‘cooperation’ requirement” that was “negotiated from a position of absolute power,” USA Today reports.
The case began in 2010 when Landis sued Armstrong, Stapelton, and Knaggs under the False Claims Act, claiming that Armstrong “submitted claims for sponsorship payments of more than $40 million to the Postal Service while knowing that members of the team had used performance enhancing drugs in violation of their sponsorship agreement.” The government joined the case in 2013 but did not name Knaggs and Stapleton as defendants.
As Outside reported in 2012, damages may be tripled in whistleblower cases. Because the Postal Service gave Armstrong’s team $31.9 million between 2001 and 20014, Armstrong could, theoretically, “be on the hook for more than $90 million.