Jury Levies $310M Fine Against FMC
Apr. 15, 1998
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Jurors agreed with a whistleblower's lawsuit and levied a $310 million judgment against FMC Corp. over its production of the troubled Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
Tuesday's unanimous verdict, which came after three weeks of deliberation, was in favor of former FMC engineer Henry Boisvert, who blew the whistle on his former employer and has been battling the company in court since filed suit in 1986.
The 20-member jury agreed that FMC was responsible for thousands of violations of the federal False Claims Act, which had been revised in 1986 so whistle-blowers such as Boisvert could sue for fraud on the government's behalf.
The law says 70 percent of the verdict goes to the U.S. Treasury. Boisvert and his lawyers get much of the rest _ and that could total $77 million or more.
The lawsuit claimed FMC lied about safety flaws in the Bradley, the 25-ton military vehicle that is part tank, part armored troop carrier.
It contended FMC defrauded the government of billions of dollars by selling a machine likely to fail in combat. Boisvert's main allegation was that although the Bradley was supposed to float across rivers and lakes, it could sink.
``Contractors need to be honest in dealing with the government,'' jury foreman Francisco Nazario told the San Jose Mercury News. ``They are going to be accountable if they don't do that.''
FMC, based in Chicago, sold its defense division last fall. It called the verdict ``outrageous'' and promised to appeal. Los Angeles attorney John Dwyer, who defended FMC, declined to comment.
Boisvert, 48, who now works for Hewlett-Packard, cried as the verdict was read.
``I hope the whole defense industry gets the message,'' he said outside the courtroom. ``The issue was never money. I wasn't going to give up until they either redesigned the vehicle or quit building it.''
The jury actually awarded $125 million in damages, but the amount was multiplied under a complex formula in the law.