Court Revives Secretary’s Whistleblower Allegations

     RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – The 4th Circuit reinstated a county secretary’s allegations that officials in two North Carolina counties conspired to funnel disaster relief work to certain inspectors.

     Karen T. Wilson brought the allegations against the county commissioners and soil and water commissioners of Graham and Cherokee counties in North Carolina.
     A storm in February 1995 caused the damage that prompted their relief effort.
     During the cleanup, Wilson became suspicious of the distribution of work and money in the relief effort.
     The case centers on the public disclosure jurisdictional bar in the False Claims Act. The district court had ruled that a county audit report constituted public disclosure.
     However, Judge Traxler ruled that the jurisdictional bar applies to federal audits and reports, not those of state and local governments. Thus, the district court should not have rejected Wilson’s claims due to lack of jurisdiction, Traxler ruled.
     The court vacated and remanded.

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