A U.S. Magistrate judge assisting with a False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit that accuses IBM of cheating Cook County, Illinois, through fraudulent billing practices on a government contract slammed the company April 4 for submitting a list of documents it wants shielded from discovery as unreasonably bloated and deficient in detail.

Law360 reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole, Northern District of Illinois, bashed IBM’s privilege log – the list of documents it wants concealed under attorney-client privilege and work-product doctrine – as “woefully inadequate” in its detail and description. Judge Cole gave IBM 10 days to amend and resubmit the log, which lists thousands of documents.

The judge said that IBM’s privilege log lacks even the most basic information about the source, circumstances, and recipients of the documents it wants protected, calling the company’s disregard of the rules and procedures “striking,” especially “for a company no doubt experienced in federal litigation.”

Many of the documents in IBM’s privilege log have little or nothing to do with communications between IBM and its counsel or involve sensitive business information that qualifies for protection, Judge Cole said.

IBM is being sued by Michael McGee, who accuses the technology company of conspiring with several contractors to defraud Cook County and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security out of about $50 million in grant funds related to the Project Shield program.

The aim of the program is to connect county vehicles to a central communications database to enhance their response in the event of a terrorist attack or disaster.

“According to McGee, IBM selected Technology Alternatives Inc. and Public Safety Communications Inc. as subcontractors on the project because of their connection to a Cook County information technology supervisor, even though the companies were not qualified for the work,” Law360 reports.

Mr. McGee claims that the government entities contracted his company, Responder Systems LLC, to take over Technology Alternatives’ subcontract work, which involved repeating multiple tasks that had been improperly performed by the original company.

McGee alleges that IBM billed Cook County for the previous work Technology Alternatives had botched and for the work his company performed to correct it, describing the redundant work as “maintenance.”

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Are you aware of fraud being committed against the federal government, or a state government? If so, the FCA can protect and reward you for doing the right thing by 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: Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, Lance Gould or Andrew Brashier

Source: Law360

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