Supreme Court Rules That Whistleblowers Cannot Rely on FOIA Requests in FCA Cases


On May 16, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that claims brought by private plaintiffs under the federal False Claims Act (FCA) could not be based on information received from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. In a 5-3 decision that reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Supreme Court found that FOIA requests qualify as "reports" that trigger the public disclosure bar for qui tam actions under the FCA.

Respondent, U.S. Army veteran Daniel Kirk, filed suit against his former employer Schindler Elevator Corp., alleging that Schindler failed to meet its obligations as a government contractor. Specifically, Mr. Kirk alleged that Schindler did not comply with the reporting provisions of the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Act of 1972 (VEVRA). To support his allegations, Mr. Kirk used information obtained through FOIA requests for the company's VEVRA reports. Mr. Kirk contended that Schindler had submitted hundreds of false claims for payments under its government contracts.

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