Joseph A. Black

Of Counsel


Since joining The Cullen Law Firm, Mr. Black has been involved in complex civil litigation including class actions against motor carriers on behalf of owner-operator truck drivers for violations of the Truth-in-Leasing regulations, challenges under the Commerce Clause to discriminatory and excessive state taxes imposed on motor vehicles and fuel consumption as well as challenges to fraudulent conduct in defense procurement contracts under the False Claims Act (FCA).  Using his Customs expertise, Mr. Black is also active in FCA actions involving allegations of Customs fraud against various importers.

Mr. Black was instrumental in securing a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals in California that a false underbid for Air Force contract could represent a false claim under the FCA.  The decision in that case, United States ex rel. Hooper v. Lockheed Martin Corp.,  688 F. #d 1037 (9th  Cir. 2013), was the first in any federal court to address this issue.  The court found that “false estimates, defined to include fraudulent underbidding in which the bid is not what the defendant intends to charge, can be a source of liability under the FCA.”   Expressed differently, a false underbid is a bid at a cost for which the bidder cannot deliver that which it promised to deliver.  This decision has the potential to shake up government contracting practices, where many contractors low ball (buy-in) cost plus contracts to secure long term work on for the government.

Mr. Black also has extensive international trade regulatory experience before the various agencies dealing with international trade matters including the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Office of the United States Trade Representative. In addition, he has advised and represented clients in a wide variety of administrative actions before various offices of the Customs Service and in litigation before the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Professional Background: Prior to attending law school, Mr. Black worked at both the U.S. Customs Service in Los Angeles (1971-1980) and the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. (1980-1984). After law school, he practiced Customs and international trade law at Dewey Ballantine, LLP (1987-1991 and 1993-1997) and at Sandler, Travis and Rosenberg (1991-1993).

Practice Areas

  • Motor Carrier Law
  • International Trade Regulation
  • Customs Law
  • False Claims Act
  • Complex Litigation

Admissions & Certificates

  • Pennsylvania, 1987
  • District of Columbia, 1988
  • United States Supreme Court, 2000
  • United States Court of International Trade, 1989
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, 1989
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 1998
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, 2003
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia


  • Catholic University of America, J.D., 1987
  • California State University Long Beach, M.A. 1972
  • Central Missouri State University, B.A. 1968