Schindler Elevator Corp. v. United States ex rel. Kirk, 563 U.S. ___, 131 S. Ct. 1885 (2011)

Daniel Kirk, a former employee of Schindler Elevator Corporation, filed this lawsuit under the False Claims Act (“FCA”), alleging Schindler had submitted false or fraudulent claims for payment to the United States. Kirk alleged the company had falsely certified its compliance with the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1972. To support his allegations, Kirk relied upon information that his wife had received from the Department of Labor (“DOL”) in response to three Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests she had made. Schindler moved to dismiss Kirk’s lawsuit on a number of grounds, including that the FCA’s public disclosure bar deprived the district court of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court resolved a conflict among the circuit courts of appeals and held that a “report” as used in the FCA’s public disclosure bar carries its ordinary meaning and that the DOL’s written responses to Mrs. Kirk’s FOIA requests were therefore “reports.” See also County of Kern v. Jadwin, 197 Cal.App.4th 65 (2011) (employer’s state law FCA claim that was filed against former employee who had successfully sued for violation of his employment rights was frivolous and brought to harass employee).