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Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Carter

135 S. Ct. 1970 (2015)

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Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Carter

United States Supreme Court

135 S. Ct. 1970 (2015)

Facts

Benjamin Carter (plaintiff) worked for Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. (Kellogg) (defendant), a United States defense contractor that provided the government with logistical services in Iraq. Carter alleged that Kellogg committed fraud against the government by billing it for water-purification services that were not performed. Carter filed a qui tam complaint against Kellogg under the False Claims Act (FCA). The government did not intervene in the suit and informed Carter and Kellogg that a qui tam suit with similar allegations had already been filed. The district court dismissed the case without prejudice on the ground that the first-to-file bar precluded subsequent related claims. Carter appealed. The related case was then dismissed for failure to prosecute while the appeal was pending. In response, Carter filed a new complaint in district court. The district court dismissed the new complaint under the first-to-file provision, holding that the case was precluded because Carter’s first complaint was still pending. In response, Carter voluntarily dismissed the case that was pending appeal. Carter filed a third complaint in district court, which was dismissed with prejudice under the first-to-file provision on the ground that a similar case had been filed in Maryland with the same allegation. Carter appealed. While Carter’s appeal was pending, the case in Maryland was dismissed. The court of appeals reversed on the ground that the first-to-file provision was no longer applicable and remanded the case to the district court to dismiss without prejudice so that Carter could refile the case. Kellogg appealed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether the FCA’s first-to-file provision bars all subsequent related claims, regardless of whether the related claims are still alive.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Alito, J.)

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