Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Military Trucking Company Can Move Forward
On Tuesday, February 25th, a federal judge in South Carolina agreed that a whistleblower lawsuit against a military contracted trucking company could move forward. The trial is set to begin sometime in either March or April, 2015.
Covan World-Wide Moving and its affiliate Coleman-American Moving Services were paid by the federal government based on the weight of the items they moved. The false claims lawsuit alleges that, since 2007, the company “systematically falsified weight certificates, shipping records and invoices by increasing shipment weights.” The lawsuit claims the scheme is “potentially vast and complex fraud.”
“Defendants’ false claims scheme has resulted in a substantial loss to the U.S. and its taxpayers,” the lawsuit said. “Since just 2009, defendants and their affiliates are believed to have billed the federal government for $723 million worth of shipping and relocation services provided to the nation’s uniformed service personnel.”
The lawsuit did not state how much of the $723 million might have been false claims and billing.
On Tuesday, Judge Joe Anderson dismissed one part of the whistleblower lawsuit, which alleged that Covan engaged “in a intracorporate conspiracy.” He said that there was not enough evidence to move forward on the government’s claims of such a broad conspiracy.
Covan denies the fraud allegations. In the first pleadings before Judge Anderson, the company said that the government’s lawsuit was “frankly outrageous.” There was not enough evidence, according to the defendants, that the fraud was intentional or widespread – there were only a few examples of overweight billings.
According to the false claims suit, the fraud was discovered at an Augusta, SC truck shipping depot, which receives and ships belongings for Fort Jackson soldiers. Reportedly, some accurate weight certificates were replaced with false ones, while others had the correct weights whited-out and a new, fraudulent weight was written in.
The false claims lawsuit was filed by two whistleblowers, Mario Humberto Figueroa and his son Elmer Arnulfo Figueroa, who claim they worked at the Augusta warehouse and were specifically instructed by the trucking company to falsify weight billing.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help Protect Whistleblowers with the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act, also known as the Whistleblower Act or a qui tam lawsuit, is intended to encourage people to come forward with information and assist the government in stopping the waste of Government funds.
Common whistle blower actions include:
- Medicare fraud,
- defense contractor fraud, and
- other kinds of fraud.
If you are personally aware of a fraud that has been committed by your current or former employer, a competitor or otherwise, contact the Qui Tam attorneys at the Strom Law Firm today for a no cost consultation to discuss the facts of your case and whether filing a qui tam may be appropriate. We understand the complexity of the False Claims Act, and can help you with your case. We offer free, confidential consultations so contact us for help today. 803.252.4800.