The Supreme Court says a Freedom of Information Act request cannot be used to trigger a False Claims Act lawsuit.
The court on Monday voted 5-3 to agree with arguments by Schindler Elevator Corp., which sought to get a lawsuit against it dismissed.
Daniel Kirk, a former employee, sued on behalf of the government, claiming Schindler had not complied with reporting requirements involving the employment of Vietnam veterans.
But a judge threw out his lawsuit, saying Kirk's information came from a FOIA request. The False Claims Act says that lawsuits cannot be filed using publicly disclosed information. The judge said FOIA reports were public information.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City overturned that decision but the high court said it was correct.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the court's opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented and was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
Justice Elena Kagan did not participate because she worked on this case while serving as solicitor general.
The case is Schindler Elevator Corp. v United States, 10-188.