Chicago – In a case that has been before the Court of Appeals for the third time and before the United States Supreme Court twice, the relator appealed the district court’s dismissal of her qui tam case based on the False Claims Act’s public disclosure bar. Fortunately, for the relator, the Court of Appeals reversed. United States ex rel. Wilson v. Graham County Soil & Water Conservation District, (4th Cir. Feb. 3, 2015)
The facts of the case begin in February 1995, when a storm caused flooding and erosion in North Carolina. The United States Department of Agriculture agreed to help through a program known as the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The Graham County Soil & Water Conservation District, the Defendant, was responsible for to managing the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.
Karen Wilson, a part-time secretary at Graham County SWCD, and the relator reported her suspected misconduct to the USDA. The USDA report created in response to Ms. Wilson’s allegations was distributed to several state and federal law enforcement agencies with a warning not to distribute the report outside of your agency without the approval of the USDA.