The Department of Justice recently announced a big settlement with a Japanese manufacturer in a serious case of government procurement fraud. Japanese manufacturer Toyoba has promised to pay $66 million to resolve two lawsuits brought against them under the False Claims Act.
According to the lawsuits, Toyoba and an American distributor, Second Chance Body Armor, knowingly sold fatally flawed bullet-proof vests to American law enforcement agencies, including federal, state, and local departments. For years, police officers bought and wore these vests made from material that degraded in normal conditions.
A significant chunk of the total $66 million recovery was only made possible because a former law enforcement officer and employee of Second Chance Body Armor, Aaron Westrick, filed a whistleblower lawsuit that helped the federal government investigate and prosecute the Japanese manufacturer and others involved in the fraud.
Dr. Westrick’s whistleblower lawsuit began the same way most whistleblower suits do. Dr. Westrick discovered the fraud and filed a “qui tam lawsuit,” on behalf of the federal government, alleging that Second Chance Body Armor and Toyoba were defrauding the government by selling it security equipment they knew was defective.
Picking up on that lawsuit, the federal government launched its own investigation into Dr. Westrick’s allegations and filed another suit against the companies. Together, the government and whistleblower obtained a major settlement from Toyoba, with claims against others still pending. More importantly, they sent a strong message against defrauding the government in ways that hurt law enforcement officers.
This case is a good example of the value whistleblowers provide the American taxpayer and the way the law rewards them for providing that value. Dr. Westrick earned a $5,775,000 whistleblower reward from filing his lawsuit. He earned that by putting his reputation and job on the line to expose a fraud that hurt law enforcement officers, from FBI agents to our local Sheriff’s deputies.
The law recognizes the risks whistleblowers take and their crucial role in protecting American taxpayers. If you believe you have first-hand knowledge of government fraud, contact an experienced whistleblower attorney. You may be able to qualify for a substantial reward.