Judge grants Lance Armstrong access to witness interviews

Landis' whistleblower lawsuit continues moving forward

A US federal judge ruled on Monday that Lance Armstrong and his legal team may see documents from the federal government's criminal doping investigation into the US Postal Service's sponsorship of Armstrong's former team, according to a report today by Courthouse News Service.

The federal government joined a False Claims Act lawsuit by Armstrong's former teammate Floyd Landis, naming Armstrong, former team manager Johan Bruyneel and Armstrong's management company Tailwind Sports as defendants. The suit, which Landis filed in 2010, accuses Armstrong of defrauding the US government when the former seven-time Tour de France winner was riding for US Postal. The government joined Landis' lawsuit last year, and under the False Claims Act, damages could be tripled to nearly $100 million. As the whistleblower who filed the case, Landis would be eligible for part of any damages awarded.

Armstrong's attorneys have been seeking access to the federal government's witness interviews that took place during the criminal investigation, which ended in 2012 with a decision not to pursue criminal charges against Armstrong.

The federal government argued that documents from the criminal investigation are protected work product, but US District Judge Christopher R. Cooper granted in part Armstrong's motion to compel production of documents, according to the Courthouse News Service report.

The judge relied on the court's previous distinction between protected “opinion” work product and “fact” work product, which encompasses “relevant, non-privileged facts” and is discoverable if a substantial need and unavailability by other means is shown, according to the report.

“The court previously ruled that Armstrong has demonstrated a substantial need for any law enforcement memoranda created during the now-closed criminal investigation that contain relevant fact work product only,” Cooper stated in his ruling. “The court explained that because the civil lawyers litigating this qui tam action have received a substantial advantage from having access to the fruits of the prior criminal investigation, fairness dictates that both sides have equal access to relevant witness statements developed by law enforcement in the prior criminal investigation.”

The judge did not grant Armstrong's bid to see records of interviews from a separate civil investigation, according to the report.

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