On May 27, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a $50 million settlement agreement with Navistar Defense for allegations under the False Claims Act. In the suit, Navistar was accused of fraudulently inflating the prices of armored vehicles it sold to the U.S. Marine Corps. The case was brought as a whistleblower action by the company’s former Government Contracts Manager, Duquoin Burgess, and Burgess himself is set to receive over $11 million in the settlement.
The False Claims Act (FCA) is a federal law that penalizes companies and individuals for knowingly defrauding the government in certain ways by holding them liable for more than triple the cost of their actions. Though the government can file a suit on its own under the FCA, qui tam or “whistleblower” lawsuits are the most common cause of action under the law. These claims allow private individuals to act on their own knowledge of fraudulent schemes by filing suit on the government’s behalf—and when those suits are successful, the FCA also grants those individuals a portion of the government’s payments.
Having the courage to come forward as a whistleblower can be extremely lucrative. In 2020 alone, whistleblowers like Burgess were awarded over $309 million because of actions under the FCA. Earning that money is no simple matter, however. Only claims that actually result in a successful settlement or judgement for the government can yield a payout for the whistleblower, and securing such an outcome requires time and work. A diligent attorney is needed to help the whistleblower assess their best options, preserve any evidence they might have, and navigate the difficult process of assisting the government with its investigation.
Burgess’s willingness to bring the information about Navistar into the light saved the government and taxpayers from continuing to overpay for important safety equipment for the military, and his whistleblower award now will compensate him for that service. If you or someone you know has information about a fraud against the government, contact our team of experienced whistleblower attorneys for more information on how you can take action under the FCA