United States ex rel. Mateski v. Raytheon, 816 F.3d 565 (9th Cir. 2016)

Steven Mateski worked as an engineer at Raytheon. Mateski filed a complaint in federal court alleging that Raytheon had violated the False Claims Act (“FCA”) by failing to comply with numerous contractual requirements in developing a project for the government, fraudulently covering up areas of noncompliance and improperly billing the government for erroneous and incomplete work. Six years after he filed the initial complaint, the United States declined to exercise its right under the FCA to intervene in the lawsuit, and Raytheon successfully moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that the suit was barred by the public disclosure bar (i.e., that the subject matter about which Mateski was complaining was already publicly known when he filed his lawsuit). The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that Mateski’s allegations differ in both degree and kind from the very general previously disclosed information about problems with the project in question. As such, “if his allegations prove to be true, Mateski will undoubtedly have been one of those ‘whistle-blowing insiders with genuinely valuable information,’ rather than an ‘opportunistic plaintiff[] who ha[s] no significant information to contribute.'”