In 2012, the Fifth Circuit remanded a False Claims Act case with the direction: “The district court should determine whether the public disclosures identified in the motion for summary judgment reveal either (i) that Shell was deducting gathering expenses prohibited by program regulations, or (ii) that this type of fraud was so pervasive in the industry that the company’s scheme, as alleged, would have been easily identified.” Little v. Shell Exploration, 690 F.3d 282 (5th Cir. 2012). On remand, the district court again granted summary judgment for the defense, and a displeased Fifth Circuit reversed. Little v. Shell Exploration II, No. 14-20156 (Feb. 23, 2015, unpublished).
The Court found: “Not only did the district court fail to follow these explicit instructions, but the analysis set out in its short opinion is so broad, conclusory, and unsupported by the summary judgment record that we are compelled to conclude it did not comply with our instructions.” On the merits, the Court held that “the district court erred with respect to every category of supposed public disclosures.” The Court went on to order reassignment to a different district judge on remand, concluding: ” Facing a lengthy and detailed summary judgment record, the district judge issued a five-page opinion with few
citations to either record evidence or relevant legal authority—not surprising given that neither the summary judgment evidence nor the law support the conclusions he reached.”