Honeywell International Inc., headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, has agreed to pay $3.35 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by selling defective material for bullet proof vests used by law enforcement officers, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
The United States alleged that, between 2000 and 2005, Honeywell sold its patented Z Shield material to Armor Holdings, a body armor manufacturer, despite Honeywell knowing that Z Shield degraded quickly over time in heat and humidity and was not suitable for ballistic use. Armor Holdings’ vests containing Honeywell’s Z Shield were purchased by federal agencies under a General Services Administration (GSA) contract, and by various state, local and Tribal law enforcement authorities that were partially funded by the Justice Department’s Bulletproof Vest Partnership program.
“This settlement and the Justice Department’s industry-wide investigation demonstrate the department’s resolve to hold accountable those businesses and individuals who supplied Zylon-containing bullet proof vests, even after learning that the material degraded in a way that could compromise its ability to stop a bullet,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The safety of law enforcement officers is of paramount importance, and we are committed to ensuring that taxpayer dollars go only to the high-quality ballistic protection our first responders deserve.”
“It is completely unacceptable for a company to produce and sell faulty products that law enforcement officers rely on for their safety,” said Inspector General Carol F. Ochoa of the GSA Office of Inspector General (GSA-OIG). “I appreciate the relentless efforts GSA OIG employees and our law enforcement partners dedicated to this case.”
The settlement concludes over a decade of litigation and ends the Justice Department’s long-running investigation of the body armor industry’s sale of defective Zylon bullet proof vests to the government. The United States previously recovered over $133 million in settlements with 17 entities and individuals involved in all stages of the body armor supply chain.
The resolution obtained in the Honeywell litigation was the result of efforts by the Justice Department’s Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch, Fraud Section, with assistance from the GSA-OIG; the Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General; the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General; Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration; the Department of Energy, Office of the Inspector General; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the U.S. Criminal Investigative Command; the Air Force Office of Special Investigations; and the Defense Contracting Audit Agency.
Fraud Section Attorneys Alicia Bentley, Jennifer Chorpening and Tom Morris handled the litigation and settlement.
The lawsuit is captioned United States v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 08-0961 (PLF) (D.D.C.).
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.