HUNTSVILLE, Ala. --- A Huntsville federal court jury verdict Friday could result in a defense contractor having to pay more than $100 million to whistleblowers and the federal government after jurors found the company fraudulently induced the U.S. Army into contracts with Saudi Arabia, El Salvador and Costa Rica.
Attorneys for the defendants declined to comment outside the federal courthouse after the verdict was read. A plaintiffs’ attorney said later that their clients and the U.S. government stand to receive triple the damages awarded by the jury. The jury deliberated for just over an hour before finding MD Helicopters liable in three claims, awarding baseline penalties of nearly $3.8 million in one claim, $29.7 million in the second, and $3.3 million in the third.
The lawsuit from 2013 was originally filed under the False Claims Act by two former employees of MD Helicopters. Under that act the whistleblowers can receive up to 30 percent of the tripled damages, with the rest going to the government, Tony Mastando, attorney with the law firm Mastando & Artrip which represented the whistleblowers. If government prosecutors had pursued the case on its own, which it had declined to do, the whistleblowers would have been eligible for less of a share, he said.
The exact amounts will be determined following negotiations between the whistleblowers and the Department of Justice. U.S. District Court Judge Abdul Kallon, who presided over the case, will have to sign off on it. (end of excerpt)
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