Florida CanalThe South Florida Water Management District took funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, not to fix hurricane damage to levees and canals but to make "permanent flood control repairs". United States ex rel. Lesinski v. South Florida Water Mgmt. Dist., No. 12-16082 (11th Cir. Jan. 2, 2014).

Or so an ex-employee of the District alleged in a qui tam case under the False Claims Act. The Act allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the federal government for fraud.

But the Act makes only a "person" liable, 31 U.S.C. 3729(a), and "the term 'person' . . . cannot include states or state agencies, at least for qui tam purposes." Id. at 5 (citing Vt. Agency of Nat. Res. v. United States ex rel. Stevens, 529 U.S. 765, 780 (2000)). Nor do "state officers and entities" qualify as a qui tam person "when they act as an 'arm of the state.'" Id. at 4 (quoting Manders v. Lee, 338 F.3d 1304, 1308 (11th Cir. 2003) (en banc).

Does the "arm of the state" test apply to an entity like the District? Yes, the Eleventh Circuit held in Lesinski, joining four other Circuits that had reached the same conclusion. Id. at 6 (citing United States ex rel. Oberg v. Ky. Higher Educ Student Loan Corp., 681 F.3d 575, 579-80 (4th Cir. 2012); Stoner v. Santa Clara Cnty. Office of Educ., 502 F.3d 1116, 1121-22 (9th CIr. 2007); United States ex rel. SIikenga v. Regence Bluecross Blueshield of Utah, 472 F.3d 702, 718 (10th Cir. 2006); United States ex rel. Adrian v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 363 F.3d 398, 401-02 (5th Cir. 2004)).