WDC Acquisitions LLC d/b/a Wellman Dynamics, an aircraft parts manufacturer located in Iowa, will pay $500,000 to settle allegations of violating the False Claims Act. The case stemmed from a qui tam whistleblower complaint filed in October 2020.
The qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act enable private citizens to file lawsuits on behalf of the government if they know of an individual or company defrauding the government. Qui tam whistleblowers are eligible to receive between 15 and 30% of the government’s recovery, if one occurs.
The whistleblower’s 2020 complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, alleged that WDC failed to conduct several kinds of necessary testing on “large metal castings that it supplies to prime defense contractors,” including the Boeing Company. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) press release, the castings were used in the UH-1Y, AH-1Z, AH-64 Apache, V22 Osprey and UH-60 Black Hawk programs.” In regards to tensile strength tests, the whistleblower alleged that WDC “failed to appropriately conduct or record” these tests: the individual also alleged that “WDC falsified or failed to conduct necessary destructive testing,” according to the settlement agreement.
The whistleblower also “alleged a retaliation claim against WDC.”
The U.S. “alleged that, between 2014 and 2021, Wellman failed to conduct required metallurgic and other tests on the castings, including tensile strength testing, destructive testing, microstructure analysis, hot isostatic testing and salt fog testing, and falsely certified results of tests that had not been performed,” the press release states. The settlement agreement reads, “These failures to conduct necessary testing or appropriately report test results caused the submission of false claims to the United States Department of Defense, United States Navy, and/or the United States Army.”
The whistleblower will receive $90,000 from WDC and an additional $15,000 for settlement of their retaliation claim.
“Proper testing is critical for ensuring the proper performance of the equipment that is provided to our men and women in uniform” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, in the press release. “We will hold accountable those who knowingly falsify or fail to conduct required tests and put our military at risk.”
Whistleblowers are key to uncovering fraud and corruption: in Fiscal Year 2021, whistleblowers helped the DOJ recover $1.6 billion in settlements. Learn more about False Claims Act whistleblowers from all industries.
Read the DOJ press release here.
Read the settlement agreement here.