Federal investigator may bring qui tam suit

The case of Little v. Shell Exploration presented an issue of first impression — whether a federal employee, even one whose job is to investigate fraud, may bring a qui tam action under the False Claims Act.  690 F.3d 282 (5th Cir. 2012).  After review of the statutory text, the Court sided with a majority of other Circuits that have addressed the issue and concluded that one may.  The Court acknowledged the practical issue of “how to ensure employee fidelity to agency enforcement priorities in the face of personal monetary incentives,” but concluded that the government could address that issue with personnel guidelines and with its power to intervene and dismiss actions.  The Court remanded for consideration of whether the “public disclosure” and “original source” aspects of the Act barred the specific claims raised by these relators — matters that could limit the scope of the first holding.

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