February 18, 2014 — When the U.S. government falls victim to false claims by unscrupulous government contractors, it can be a matter of public safety. This is certainly the case when a contractor makes false representations about the operation of components in its nuclear devices. In such cases, where more is at stake than just tax dollars, the assistance of whistleblowers is critical. The qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act allow tipsters to file suit in federal court on the government’s behalf. To reward whistleblowers willing to collaborate with the government, the Act entitles informants to share in the government’s recovery.
Insider Alleged False Claims Act Violations Concerning GE Hitachi’s Design of Advanced Nuclear Reactor
General Electric Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas LLC (GE Hitachi) has consented to pay $2.7 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit making False Claims Act allegations that the company made false claims to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Department of Energy concerning the design for an advanced nuclear reactor. LeRay Dandy, the tipster, is a former inside employee of GE Hitachi. Dandy’s portion of the settlement has not yet been allocated.
From 2007 to 2012, the Department of Energy provided funding for up to one half of GE Hitachi’s costs in developing the advanced nuclear Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor (ESBWR). One component of the ESBWR is the steam dryer, which removes liquid water droplets from steam. The NRC requires government contractors, like GE Hitachi, to demonstrate that vibrations from the steam dryer will not cause damage to a nuclear facility.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, however, GE Hitachi allegedly made false claims to the NRC and Department of Energy by hiding known defects revealed by the analysis of its steam dryer and by claiming that it had verified the successful analysis of the steam dryer using reliable data.
The NRC will ultimately rule on whether to approve GE Hitachi’s application to have its ESBWR design certified. The Commission has not yet made a final determination.
When Government Contractors Attempt to Intimidate Insiders into Silence
The qui tam attorneys with Waters & Kraus recognize that many potential whistleblowers are intimidated by their employers to keep quiet about schemes to file false claims with the government. We’ve represented many insiders who are unsettled, apprehensive or flat-out frightened for their jobs. Contact us or call our False Claims Act lawyers at 855.784.0268. With offices in California, Maryland and Texas, we’re here to make filing a qui tam lawsuit easier on you.