Oral argument: March 1, 2011
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Apr. 6, 2010)
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, FALSE CLAIMS ACT, QUI TAM
Daniel Kirk, a Vietnam War veteran, filed a qui tam suit against Schindler Elevator Corporation ("Schindler"), alleging that Schindler violated the False Claims Act ("FCA") through its failure to comply with The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustments Assistance Act ("VEVRAA"). Section 3730(e)(4) of the FCA expressly states that federal courts do not have jurisdiction over claims based upon “public disclosure of . . . administrative . . . report[s] . . . or investigation[s].” Kirk's FCA claim utilized information requested from the Department of Labor under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"). The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the case, holding that information obtained through a FOIA request constitutes a “report” or “investigation” under the FCA, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed. In doing so, the Second Circuit rejected the Third Circuit’s method of focusing upon the dictionary definitions of “report” and “investigation” and instead adopted the Ninth Circuit’s method of considering the “nature of the [FOIA] document itself.” Schindler appealed, claiming that FOIA responses, by virtue of being produced by federal agencies, are "reports” or “investigations" and therefore fit the FCA public disclosure bar. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve a circuit split on whether a federal agency's FOIA disclosure is a "report" or "investigation" under Section 3730(e)(4).