Today, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of whistleblower Michael Davis and overturned the limitation of that Court's decision in United States ex rel. Findley v. FPC-Boron Employees’ Club, 105 F.3d 675 (D.C. Cir. 1997). In Findley, the Court held that to be an "original source" for a qui tam claim under the False Claims Act (FCA), a whistleblower must make his or her disclosure to the government before there is any public disclosure of the same allegation. Today, the Court recognizes that this holding is inconsistent with the Supreme Court's holding in Rockwell International Corp. v. United States, 549 U.S. 457 (2007). It also recognizes that the Findley holding "bars productive suits." Even where there has been some public disclosure of the alleged fraud against the government, a whistleblower could still come forward with original information that would help the government prove that fraud. Accordingly, it is in the public interest to allow that whistleblower to recover the qui tam award so that other whistleblowers will be encouraged to come forward even after a public disclosure.
Michael Davis used to be an accountant for the District of Columbia. While he was preparing the District's Medicaid claim for special education services rendered in 1998, the District changed accountants. Davis nevertheless completed the claim. He had all the required supporting documentation. However, the District actually submitted a claim prepared by the new accountant without the required documentation. The District collected $10.3 million on that claim. In 2002, the District's Auditor reported that the District had to repay $15 million for three years of overpayments. In 2004, Davis informed the federal government of the District's lack of documentation. The Court recognized that Davis was an original source for the information he disclosed in 2004. However, the Court also held that since the District actually provided the special education services that the Medicaid program paid for, there were no actual damages to the government. Sill, Davis can recover statutory damages for the false certifications about the supporting documentation.
The case is United States ex rel. Davis v. District of Columbia, No. 11-7039 (D.C. Cir. 5-15-2012). Congratulations to Michael Davis and his attorneys Frederick A. Douglas, Curtis A. Boykin and Alex M. Chintella.