JENNER & BLOCK WINS JURY VERDICT IN FAVOR OF L-3 COMMUNICATIONS VERTEX IN WHISTLEBLOWER LAWSUIT
On January 12, 2016, Jenner & Block secured a significant win for client L-3 Communications in a civil False Claims Act lawsuit that accused L-3 subsidiary Vertex Aerospace of overbilling the US Army for helicopter maintenance when its mechanics were required by the Army to be available for work supporting combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. After a five-day trial in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, the jury deliberated less than an hour before returning a verdict in favor of L-3.
Vertex performed helicopter maintenance for the Army in southwest Asia during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Overall, Vertex provided more than 5,000 personnel to assist the Army in supporting and maintaining the full range of military combat helicopters. In 2010, a former Vertex mechanic alleged the company had submitted inaccurate records and claims for payment. After the government declined to intervene in the case, he pursued the action with a plaintiff’s law firm. At trial, the plaintiff asserted the company’s and the Army’s actions violated their government contracts. He sought damages in the amount of $480 million, based largely on the suspect testimony of an expert witness.
At trial, the expert’s figures were demonstrated to be nothing more than speculation. And defense witnesses, including decorated combat veterans, testified the Army required Vertex mechanics to be at their sites in forward-operating bases for 12 hours a day, seven days a week. According to the witnesses, this was essential to saving lives by assuring that battle-damaged and heavily used helicopters could be repaired immediately and returned to service.
Partners W. Jay DeVecchio and Michael B. DeSanctis led the trial team representing L-3. The team also included Associates Emily Chapuis, Mark P. Gaber and Alex S. Trepp; Government Contracts Analyst Anna M. Sturgis; Senior Paralegal Albert K. Peterson; Paralegal Coordinator Cheryl L. Olson; Legal Secretaries Lynne T. Colbert and Patricia Bryant; Project Assistant Adam H. Weidman; former associate Michael W. Khoo; and former project assistant Omar N. Khan.