The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case on whether whistleblower lawsuits are restricted if the information behind the lawsuits came out in state or local agency reports or audits, rather than in a federal proceeding. The False Claims Act includes a “public disclosure bar,” making it more difficult for individuals to bring qui tam suits when the information has been publicly disseminated. Lower courts have disagreed as to whether state reports and audits were intended by Congress to raise that bar.
The underlying lawsuit alleged fraud by a water conservation district in the use of federal disaster assistance.
The case is Graham County Soil & Water Conservation District v. United States ex rel. Wilson, 08-304. The Scotus Blog has posted the filings in the case.