United States District Court, District of Columbia
P. MEHTA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Jamette Williams brings both qui tam and retaliation claims
against her former employer, Defendant Washington
Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (“WMATA”),
under the federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§
3729, et seq., and similar state and District of
Columbia statutes. Plaintiff claims that WMATA violated the
anti-fraud provisions of these laws by presenting false
claims for payment, and that WMATA retaliated against her for
reporting alleged violations. WMATA moves to dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). WMATA primarily argues that
the federal and state qui tam statutes do not apply to it,
and that it cannot be sued for retaliation under state law.
WMATA also argues that it enjoys immunity from suit for
retaliation claims under the federal False Claims Act.
reasons that follow, the court grants WMATA's Motion to
Dismiss and dismisses this suit in its entirety.
Discovery of Financial Irregularities
is an interstate compact funded by the United States;
Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia
(collectively, “Jurisdictions”); certain counties
and cities within Virginia and Maryland; and customer sales.
Compl., ECF No. 1, [hereinafter Compl.] ¶ 13. The WMATA
Compact is currently codified as D.C. Code § 9-1107.01;
Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 10-204; and Va. Code Ann.
§ 33.2-3100. Plaintiff admits that WMATA “is an
agency and instrumentality of DC, Maryland, and
Virginia.” Compl. ¶ 11.
employed Plaintiff as a Certified Public Accountant from 2002
to 2016. Id. ¶¶ 14, 78. Plaintiff's
job consisted of managing and supporting funds transfers,
monitoring WMATA's billing, and completing financial
reports. Id. ¶ 16. Plaintiff also was
responsible for providing functional support for the
PeopleSoft Financial Suite and allocating the appropriate
proportion of public funding for WMATA's projects.
Id. ¶ 17.
around June 2010, WMATA entered into a funding agreement
called the Capital Funding Agreement (“CFA”),
which provides $5 billion in funds to WMATA's Capital
Improvement Plan, a system-wide improvement and maintenance
plan. Id. ¶¶ 18-19. The CFA provides
various grants to WMATA, which are funded in different
proportions by the Federal Transit Authority
(“FTA”), a federal agency, and each of the
Jurisdictions. Id. ¶ 20. The CFA requires WMATA
to complete a budget reconciliation by October
15th of each year. Id. ¶ 21. As part
of that process, WMATA's Budget Department is required to
produce an annual CFA report, which provides financial
information on “actual expenditures on projects and
activities; each Jurisdiction's actual and projected
allocation contributions, as compared to each
Jurisdiction's scheduled contribution; forecast of
expenditures; and the estimated cost to complete remaining
projects.” Id. ¶ 21. The FTA and the
Jurisdictions rely on the CFA reports to determine “how
much funding is due to [WMATA], and how [WMATA] spent funds
in the previous year.” Id. at ¶ 22. The
CFA also identifies surplus funds for reassignment to a
different project or refunding to the payor. Id.
in 2012, Plaintiff began noticing problems with financial
data contained in the newly upgraded PeopleSoft system.
Id. ¶¶ 23-24. Those problems included that
Jurisdiction-funded grants were not correctly established in
the system, meaning that funds were being used in incorrect
proportions. Id. ¶ 24. She also discovered that
WMATA was not reconciling the budget at the end of the fiscal
year, “leading to [WMATA]'s withholding of funds
that should have been either reassigned to a new project or
refunded to the payor government.” Id. ¶
25. Plaintiff also noticed that WMATA had requested twice as
much funding as necessary for many projects but failed to
redistribute or refund the extra money to the FTA.
Id. ¶ 26.
began raising concerns about WMATA's financial
recordkeeping in December 2013. Id. ¶ 37.
Specifically, she “complained of lack of internal
controls between the Budget and Accounting Departments,
improper billing adjustments, and duplicate draws from the
FTA and Jurisdictions.” Id. After initially
discussing these issues with her supervisor, Ian Greaves,
id., Plaintiff met with WMATA's General Counsel
Kathryn Pett as part of a whistleblower investigation by the
U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) in February
2014, id. ¶ 38. Plaintiff voiced concerns and
shared files with Pett during this meeting, id., and
Pett forwarded the information to the Managing Director,
Office of Management and Budget, Tom Webster, id.
¶ 39. According to Plaintiff, Webster took no action on
her concerns. Id. As a result of the DOJ
investigation, FTA placed WMATA on a “draw
restriction.” Id. ¶ 40. Plaintiff met
with WMATA's Deputy Chief Financial Officer
(“CFO”) Blair Fishburn to review reconciliations
she had developed and to show him duplicate draws, but
Fishburn also failed to take corrective action. Id.
August 2014, WMATA's Office of the Inspector General
began investigating WMATA's failure to complete CFA
reports in FY2013 and FY2014. Id. ¶ 43.
Plaintiff met with investigators and shared her concerns
about the integrity of the PeopleSoft financial data, which
she believed “inevitably led to inaccurate CFA
reports.” Id. ¶ 45. Soon afterward, in
October 2014, WMATA's new CFO Dennis Anosike asked
Plaintiff to prepare a list of the Accounting
Department's responsibilities, and she sent him a list of
tasks that “that needed to be performed to ensure the
accuracy and integrity of the data used for both the annual
CFA report and the Schedule of Expenditures of Federal
Awards.” Id. ¶ 47. Later, Plaintiff
notified Anosike about a “black hole, ” a term
used to signify expenditures that had not been assigned to a
funding source within the grants management system.
Id. ¶ 49. Anosike took no action in response to
Plaintiff's communications. Id. ¶¶
accounting issues continued into the next fiscal year.
Plaintiff alleges that in FY2015, WMATA “failed to
record several invoices for reimbursement to the FTA in
PeopleSoft, ” resulting in $86 million inaccurately
accumulated as a credit on WMATA's balance sheets.
Id. ¶ 50. WMATA also did not redistribute FTA
funds between July and December 2014, resulting in a $290
million deficiency in funding for all projects. Id.
end, Plaintiff claims that between 2012 and 2016, WMATA
failed to properly bill $1.1 billion, approximately $700
million of which came from the Jurisdictions and $414 million
of which came from the FTA. Id. ¶ 53.
WMATA Retaliates against Plaintiff
November 2014, Plaintiff had several interactions with her
first-line supervisor, Ian Greaves, concerning the purposeful
manipulation of financial data by WMATA's employees and
the magnitude of the inaccuracies. Id. ¶¶
54-55. Greaves responded to one such conversation on November
24, 2014, by stating, “man you should see the emails
coming and going from [CFO] ...