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Friday, August 16, 2019

DOJ not joining whistleblower's False Claims Act case against companies with Navy contracts

Federal Court

By Karen Kidd | Aug 13, 2019


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) – After almost five years, the federal government has decided not to intervene "at this time" in a whistleblower's False Claims Act lawsuit against multiple companies that allegedly supplied nonconforming ship and boat parts to the U.S. Navy and other federal government agencies.

The federal government does hope the lawsuit, filed under seal in 2014 and only recently unsealed, will continue or at least won't be dismissed without its consent, according to the notice of nonintervention filed Aug. 1 with U.S. District Court for Florida's Middle District, Jacksonville Division.

The federal government "respectfully" referred the court to a law "which allows the relator to maintain the action in the name of the United States, provided however that the 'action may be dismissed only if the court and the Attorney General give written consent to the dismissal and their reasons for consenting,'" the notice said.

"Therefore, the United States requests that, should either the relator or the defendants propose that this action be dismissed, settled or otherwise discontinued, the court solicit the written consent of the United States before ruling or granting its approval," the notice continued.

The federal government also asked that the complaint be unsealed. The court granted that request, which is why the case filed Nov. 10, 2014, now has been made public.

The notice was submitted on behalf of the federal government by Assistant Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt and U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez.

The case currently is assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Corrigan

The relator and whistleblower in the case, 84Partners LLC, claims that Nuflo, Synergy Flow Systems, General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls Industries and other companies used nonconforming ship and boat parts to fulfill government contracts.

The whistleblower alleges that the companies made false claims for payment after delivering the nonconforming parts under government contracts for vessels, including submarines and specifically called out parts manufacturer Nuflo.

"The parts, which are manufactured and/or assembled by defendant Nuflo, are not property manufactured and assembled, and Nuflo has failed and continues to fail in myriad ways to utilize and enforce the quality systems which are required by all of the contracts pursuant to which the United States purchases these parts," the complaint said.

84Partners alleged that other defendant companies were aware that the parts provided by Nuflo were not properly manufactured.

Per usual in such False Claims Act whistleblower lawsuit, the federal government was given the option to join the case. The federal government decided not to join 84Partners because it had not completed its investigation, according to the notice not to join. Whistleblowers are entitled to a substantial portion of recovery in FCA cases.

"The government's investigation has not been completed and, as such, the United States is not able to decide, as of the court's deadline, whether to proceed with the action," the notice said. "Accordingly, the United States hereby notifies the court that it is not intervening at this time. However, the government's investigation will continue."

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