Judge: TELG Client’s Whistleblowing Claims Can Go to Trial
Posted on May 12, 2015
DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONCERNS A CLIENT OF THE EMPLOYMENT LAW GROUP® LAW FIRM. THE RESULTS OF ALL CASES DEPEND ON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. PAST SUCCESSES DO NOT PREDICT OR GUARANTEE FUTURE SUCCESSES.
A federal judge cleared the way for trial in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by Frank Skinner, a client of The Employment Law Group® law firm (TELG), against his former employer, Armet Armored Vehicles Inc., and its owner William Whyte.
Mr. Skinner served as president of Armet, a defense contractor based in Florida. According to his complaint in the case — and also a separate criminal indictment — Armet and Whyte defrauded the U.S. government by delivering armored trucks that deliberately fell short of the protective standards Armet had promised in contracts worth more than $6 million.
Mr. Skinner, a former Marine, was the original informant in the U.S. government’s investigation of the defective trucks, which were intended for use in Iraq.
In denying Armet’s motion for partial summary judgment, Judge Jackson L. Kiser emphatically rejected Armet’s claim that Mr. Skinner had presented no facts to prove that the contractor lied about the armoring its trucks would offer. On the contrary, said Judge Kiser, “it is clear” from photographs that the trucks “did not meet the ballistic specifications outlined in Armet’s solicitations:”
A single photograph illustrates this point most clearly. The photograph shows the rubber boot surrounding the gear shift. When removed, the ground is visible. … It does not require expert knowledge to know that a piece of moldable rubber does not provide “optimal ballistic protection” to the occupants of the vehicle. Moreover, the visibility of the grounds beneath the vehicle shows that there were “gaps” in the armor.
Judge Kiser also rejected the idea that Mr. Skinner can’t prove that Armet knowingly promised a false delivery schedule to the government. And he dismissed the notion that Mr. Skinner can’t prove that Armet’s vehicles were worthless to the government.
The judge said that Mr. Skinner had presented enough evidence to proceed to trial on another issue — Armet’s diversion to Nigeria of trucks intended for the U.S. government — but deferred a final ruling pending further argument.
Mr. Skinner is represented by TELG principals David L. Scher and R. Scott Oswald. The case is U.S. ex rel. Skinner v. Armet Armored Vehicles, Inc., Case No. 4:12-cv-00045 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Danville Division.