ArentFox Schiff and Caplin & Drysdale Help Secure Dismissal With Prejudice of Tax Fraud Case Against DC United Owner Jason Levien

On October 12, the DC Superior Court granted the DC Office of Attorney General’s motion to dismiss a qui tam complaint against DC United owner Jason Levien, dismissing the case with prejudice and ending two years of litigation.

A copy of the opinion can be found here.

A team from ArentFox Schiff, led by Jackson D. Toof and Nicole M. Curtis, and Caplin & Drysdale, led by Scott D. Michel, represented Mr. Levien. They were assisted by Leighanne Scott of PwC. The case is District of Columbia, ex rel. Christopher Deubert v. Jason Levien, Case No. 2021 CA 3200 B (Edelman, J.) (D.C. Sup. Ct.). Mr. Levien filed a Joinder to the District’s Motion to Dismiss (along with several other briefs), and the Court heard oral argument on August 25, 2023. Mr. Toof presented argument on behalf of Mr. Levien at the hearing. 

The plaintiff, who had served as general counsel for DC United from November 2018 to March 2021, is currently a senior counsel at Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP. He filed the case on his own behalf against Mr. Levien under the DC False Claims Act, through which private citizens can file lawsuits on behalf of the government to allege false claims and receive a portion of the funds recovered if they are successful. 

As part of the case, the DC OAG and the DC Office of Tax and Revenue conducted an investigation and audit of Mr. Levien’s taxes, the result of which revealed Mr. Levien did not owe taxes to the District of Columbia. According to the Court, “[t]his investigation led to the conclusion that this action entirely lacks merit[.]” Op. at 9.

Notably, the District’s motion to dismiss papers described the plaintiff’s claims against Mr. Levien as “meritless” or “lacks merit” no less than 14 times in the course of the briefing process. “[A]t no point does [Plaintiff/Relator] provide the Court with any evidence or information supporting his claims that the investigation should have reached a different conclusion or that Defendant owes additional taxes, much less taxes in the amount that would meet the [False Claims Act] threshold.” Op. at 9, n.7.

“Mr. Levien has a long-standing record of commitment to the Washington, DC community, and we knew the allegations against him were meritless from the beginning,” said Mr. Toof. “The DC OAG conducted its investigation as required and came to the same conclusion. We appreciate the professionalism of the attorneys at the Office of the Attorney General during the course of the litigation and we thank them and the Court for reaching the correct result here.”

“A giant thank you to Jackson Toof and the ArentFox Schiff team for their steadfast professionalism and advocacy in bringing this matter to its rightful conclusion,” said Mr. Levien. “I would also like to express my gratitude to Scott Michel and Leighanne Scott for their deep legal and tax expertise and for helping me earn my unofficial masters in taxation during the course of this matter.” 

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