In a major victory today for whistleblowers reporting fraud in the Iraq reconstruction effort, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court’s decision that took away a jury verdict from the whistleblowers or relators in this qui tam case under the False Claims Act.
The Custer Battles case has been a hard-fought one, which until this decision had produced one of the odder results found.
With hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars spent on the Iraq War and Iraq reconstruction, and with the False Claims Act supposedly protecting U.S. taxpayer funds from fraud, the whistleblowers filed a qui tam case under the False Claims Act that alleged fraud in certain contracts that addressed, among other things, replacing Iraqi currency in the Iraq reconstruction effort.
After the jury awarded a verdict to the whistleblowers, the trial court overturned it. The trial court did not view claims presented to the Coalition Provisional Authority (“CPA”) that was created and funded by the United States as the same as claims presented to the U.S. Government, even though the CPA officials were U.S. Government employees, and U.S. dollars were lost. Today’s decision by the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision and corrected that odd result.
This is a very positive development for whistleblowers reporting fraud in Iraq and elsewhere, as it corrects a strained interpretation of the law that has allowed fraud to go unaddressed. We congratulate everyone associated with this effort.
The Court’s conclusion from the decision today is quoted below: