Bracker & Marcus LLC is proud to announce that a suit brought by their client against WDC Acquisitions LLC, d/b/a Wellman Dynamics, has been intervened and settled by the Department of Justice.
The settlement resolves allegations that Wellman failed to properly perform metallurgical testing on parts used in military aircraft.
About Wellman Dynamics
Wellman Dynamics is a 400-person manufacturing facility in Creston, Iowa. It creates castings from aluminum and magnesium for prime defense contractors like Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, Bell Textron, Sikorsky Aircraft, Raytheon Missiles & Defense, and Aerojet Rocketdyne.
These customers use the parts for military and commercial helicopters, jet engines, rockets, and missile systems. Wellman parts are found on the Blackhawk, Apache, Viper, Venom, King Stallion, and Marine One helicopters.
Wellman has also contributed to the Space Launch System (SLS) for NASA and the nuclear-armed air-launched Long Range Stand Off Weapon (LRSO) currently in development for the United States Air Force.
Lab Technician Uncovers Government Fraud at Work
Our client was a lab technician for quality control in Wellman’s Metallurgical Lab. They discovered that on two separate occasions, the Lab Manager had falsified test results for tensile strength testing to ship products when the metal was not as strong as required by the government contracts.
After digging deeper, he found that at least one set of these defective castings had been shipped to Sikorsky Aircraft for use on the Blackhawk.
This discovery upset and concerned our client—what about the possible effect on the safety of military aircraft? What other problems might there be? So, our client started looking into other required testing.
He discovered that after being decertified for certain types of destructive testing, Wellman failed to exercise either of its contractual options, which were to get permission to change the type of testing specimen or to send the castings out for testing elsewhere.
Instead, Wellman “cheated” by testing parts of the specimens that it could easily extract, or in some cases, simply fabricated results and performed no testing at all.
Wellman had also failed to perform Salt Fog Corrosion testing on any castings since approximately 2013. They had been sending out an old, invalid certificate to cover up that failure.
Finally, Relator was concerned that Hot Isostatic Testing had also not been performed. Very concerned, he reached out to Bracker & Marcus.
Relator Brings a Wealth of Evidence as Faulty Parts Endanger U.S. Troops
When I first interviewed the Relator, it was clear that his sole motivation for bringing suit was to make sure that U.S. military troops were not in any danger from faulty metal parts.
The issue was deeply personal. He himself had served in Afghanistan and had several family members who were still serving—flying in some of the very same aircraft that used Wellman parts.
Our firm feels the same way. My husband and I come from military families. As I explained in that first conversation, if there is a realistic chance that our military is being endangered by the acts of a contractor, we’re going to make sure the case is filed and that the proper people have a chance to assess the situation.
So, it wasn’t a matter of whether we would file his case, it was only a matter of reviewing what information we could provide to make the government’s investigation as straightforward as possible.
At first, I thought that the process would be daunting. After all, to be successful, we had to show not just that parts weren’t being properly tested, but also that those untested/defective parts were actually making their way onto military aircraft.
Fortunately, in this case, the Relator brought a wealth of very valuable information, including specific part numbers that had been omitted from testing, or for which testing had been altered. He also had evidence on salt fog corrosion testing and the history of the company.
From the beginning of the case, the government was very complimentary of the level of detailed information we were able to provide.
How much was the settlement?
There’s another part to this story. As the press release above shows, Wellman settled the case for $500,000, a number that was based on the company’s ability to pay.
But the Settlement Agreement specified that the actual claim—had the company been able to pay it – was nearly thirty million dollars!
You might think that this result would disappoint my client. After all, his share of the recovery would have been considerably larger if the company had been able to pay the full amount of damages.
But instead, he was truly delighted. He was so relieved to know that the issues had been raised with the right people and that the situation was being addressed. He said he’d sleep better knowing our military members are safe.
Suspect government fraud? We can help.
It’s truly our honor to represent relators like this—and I’m proud to say, that’s the kind of clients we have! Knowing that we are assisting brave people with presenting serious safety concerns to those best situated to evaluate the potential for harm and to put a stop to wrongdoing is a really satisfying way to spend our days.
If you have information on contractor fraud, a government fraud attorney at Bracker & Marcus LLC is ready to assist you. Contact us for a free evaluation of your case and let us help you sleep better at night, too.