.S. ex rel. Findley v. FPC-Boron Employees’ Club – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

U.S. ex rel. Findley v. FPC-Boron Employees' Club (D.C.Cir. 1997) 323 U.S. App.D.C. 61 105 F.3d 675 involved public disclosure in government reports rather than in the news media.

But Findley argued, as plaintiff argues here, that he did not rely on the various reports and public statements, and therefore his complaint could not have been "based upon" the public sources of information. (Findley, supra, 105 F.3d at pp. 681-682.)

Rejecting the rationale of U.S. ex rel. Siller v. Becton Dickinson & Co. (4th Cir. 1994) 21 F.3d 1339, 1347-1350, certiorari denied (1994) 513 U.S. 928, a case also cited by plaintiff, the court in Findley employed a broader construction of the jurisdictional bar "to encompass situations in which the relator's complaint repeats what the public already knows, even though she had learned about the fraud independent of the public disclosures." (Findley, supra, 105 F.3d at p. 683.)

The public disclosures raised "the specter of 'foul play' by acknowledging the questionable legality of permitting federal employees to use federal facilities for the provision of vending services and retaining revenue from such services." (Findley, supra, 105 F.3d at p. 687.)

The relators in Findley were disappointed vendors who lost their bid to service employee vending machines at a federal prison camp. (Findley, supra, 105 F.3d at p. 678.)

During the bidding process, they learned that employees' clubs earned revenue from the provision of vending services on federal property, which the relators believed funded social events and "junkets" that violated a number of civil and criminal laws. (Ibid.)

The district court dismissed their qui tam action because "before the filing of this action, enough information was in the public domain to expose the allegation that government employees are perpetrating a fraud upon the government by maintaining vending machines on Federal property. The government itself presumably could have brought an action against employees' clubs such as the one at FBC-Boron ... without a qui tam suit in the present case." (Id. at p. 679.)