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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Federal judge dismisses lawsuit against NMSU

U.S. District Court Judge Bruce Black on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by two former New Mexico State University employees claiming that various university employees had falsely represented the university as a minority institution to obtain more than $300 million in federal contacts in the 1990s.

mer employees, Edward Burlbaw and Donald Bustamante, had sought nearly $1 billion in damages under the federal False Claims Act.

In rejecting their claims and dismissing the lawsuit, Judge Black determined that "there is no evidence in this case of a knowing or reckless false certification by any Defendant."

The judge noted that for most of the time period in question "the undisputed evidence is that the DOE (Department of Education) consistently told NMSU it was eligible for MI (Minority Institution) status for various purposes" and that "the DOD (Department of Defense) used these DOE lists, and only these DOE lists, to determine which institutions were eligible for MI set-aside contracts and grants."

"An individual contracting with the government must be able to rely on government regulations and government requests for proposals without incurring liability under the FCA (False Claims Act)," the judge wrote.

NMSU President Michael Martin said the university was pleased with the judge's decision.

"We have believed all along that there was simply no basis for claiming that the university had defrauded the government," Martin said. "This lawsuit has taken time and resources that we can now devote to the mission of the university."