The Sesolinc Group, a Statesboro, Georgia-based government contractor, has agreed to pay the U.S. up to $2.4 million to resolve a whistleblower lawsuit alleging it supplied the U.S. Army with defective and potentially dangerous equipment.
The case against Sesolinc was initiated by Charles Jackson, a former Army combat engineer. The company hired Mr. Jackson to sell prefabricated equipment systems to the Army, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the General Services Administration.
While on his first factory tour, Mr. Jackson noticed safety issues with the equipment that would not only cause system failure but could also lead to fires and electrocutions. Although his concerns about the equipment were raised internally, Sesolinc continued to sell and deliver defective equipment that did not meet electrical and structural standards required by contract.
Knowing the defective equipment could put service members in harm’s way, Mr. Jackson sued Sesolinc under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the U.S. government in cases of fraud and other wrongdoing.
The U.S. government investigated Mr. Jackson’s allegations and chose to back his claims. On Aug. 19, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had reached a settlement in which Sesolinc agreed to repair all the defective products it previously sold the U.S. in addition to making monetary payments.
“This settlement serves as another reminder that attempting to defraud the government is a very bad idea,” said Frank Robey, director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit. “Providing shoddy and unsafe conditions for our men and women in uniform to widen profit margins is a total disservice to our government.”
David Spilker, special agent with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General, also had some barbed words for Sesolinc.
“The substituted, sub-standard, and defective products that veteran-owned Sesolinc Group provided to the VA put at risk critical infrastructure used to care for veterans during times of emergencies and natural disasters. The continued oversight of the companies who do business with VA, as shown in this investigation and subsequent settlement, safeguard the integrity of VA programs and funding.”
It’s unclear how much of the total recovery Mr. Jackson will receive as a whistleblower award. Whistleblowers whose False Claims Act lawsuits lead to a judgment or settlement receive 15% to 25% of the total recovery in cases the government chooses to litigate.
Mr. Jackson’s lawyer issued a statement saying he “could not be happier for Charles.”
“He came to us with only one thing in mind: the safety of our troops. I have no doubt that he saved lives by bringing this case.”
Beasley Allen has an experienced group of lawyers dedicated to handling whistleblower cases. The lawyers on our firm’s Whistleblower Litigation Team are Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, Lance Gould and Paul Evans. These lawyers will be glad to discuss any potential whistleblower claim either in person or by phone.