ATK Launch Systems Inc. has agreed to a $36,967,160 settlement with the United States to resolve allegations that ATK sold dangerous and defective illumination flares to the Army and the Air Force. According to the government’s allegations, from 2000 to 2006, ATK delivered LUU-2 and LUU-19 illuminating para-flares to the Defense Department. These flares, which burn in excess of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit for over five minutes, are used for nighttime combat, covert and search and rescue operations and have been used extensively by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in the global war on terror. The government alleged that the flares delivered by ATK were incapable of withstanding a 10-foot drop test without exploding or igniting, as required by specifications, and that ATK was aware of this when it submitted claims for payment.
ATK has agreed to pay the United States $21 million in cash and provide necessary in-kind services worth $15,967,160 to fix the 76,000 unsafe para-flares remaining in the government’s inventory. The settlement resolves a False Claims Act suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah.
The lawsuit was initially filed by an ATK employee under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals, called “relators” to bring lawsuits on behalf of the United States and receiv e a portion of the proceeds of a settlement or judgment awarded against a defendant.
“Our men and women in combat deserve equipment that meets critical safety and performance requirements,” said Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. “This case demonstrates that the Department of Justice will pursue cases where contractors knowingly provide defective equipment that puts the safety of American military service members at risk.