On June 24, the Delaware Supreme Court, sitting en banc, reversed a lower court ruling that levied nearly $7.3 million in damages against online retailer Overstock.com for concealing abandoned gift card balances from Delaware’s revenue agency.
In a 17-page ruling, the First State’s high court found there was insufficient evidence to show that Overstock.com violated the Delaware False Claims and Reporting Act by not reporting unclaimed gift card balances that Overstock.com had transferred to a third party. The court held that the absence of a record or statement cannot form the basis of a reverse false claim under the applicable version of that statute. The court did not need to reach any of the other issues presented on appeal.
The court reversed a July 2019 decision by a Delaware Superior Court judge that imposed treble damages and attorneys’ fees after the online retailer was found liable by a jury for nearly $3 million following a six-day whistleblower trial in the Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division.
“I have great respect for the Delaware trial courts and appellate court. I am happy that the Delaware Supreme Court accepted our arguments,” an attorney for Overstock.com, Michael P. Kelly of McCarter & English LLP told Law360 Wednesday.