In December, the Department of Justice announced that Bollinger Shipyards has agreed to an $8.5-million settlement with the United States in order to resolve a False Claims Action. Bollinger Shipyards, a subcontractor hired to modify and work on the Coast Guards patrol boat fleet, was accused of misrepresenting the longitudinal strength of the patrol boats it delivered to the Coast Guard. As a result of this misrepresentation, the boats that were put into service buckled and failed. The boats, which were to be used for public safety and national defense, simply did not have the strength to perform as promised.
First, the U.S. alleged that Bollinger Shipyards falsely represented the boat’s longitudinal strength to be two times greater than it actually was. Second, the U.S. alleged that Bollinger Shipyards only provided the Coast Guard with the highest and most inaccurate out of three calculations. In doing so, the complaint alleges, Bollinger falsely led the Coast Guard to believe those calculations was representative of a larger pool of common results. Finally, it is alleged that Bollinger Shipyards failed to follow the quality control procedures, mandated by the contract, which would have guaranteed against these miscalculations.
Bollinger Shipyard’s conduct represents the very reason the False Claims Act (FCA) was enacted; private companies taking advantage of government contracts. This type of defense contractor fraud is what led Abraham Lincoln to sign into law the FCA during the Civil War. Even before the Civil War, as early as 1791, contractors were taking advantage of the government by providing boots that came apart and tents that were not waterproofed. This fraud in 1791 led to the most one-sided defeat ever suffered by the U.S. Army.
Now, 225 years later, the U.S. still has private companies attempting to take advantage of government contracts. As before, this type of fraud does not merely deplete the tax pool but actually weakens the U.S. defense and ability to protect the public. The FCA is a powerful tool, which the U.S. continues to use to combat fraud, and rewards those who help.
If you are aware of fraud being committed against the federal or state governments, you could be rewarded for reporting the fraud. If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact an attorney at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. There is a contact form on this website, or you may email one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Andrew Brashier, Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, or Lance Gould.
U.S. Department of Justice
B. Gilbert, God Gave Us This Country 145-52 (1989)