Iowa metal manufacturer settles US government complaint
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A southwest Iowa company that makes metal castings used by military contractors in helicopters and other equipment has reached a settlement in a lawsuit alleging the company failed to test the castings and falsely certified test results over seven years.
Wellman Dynamics, a Creston company that manufactures large metal castings used by military contractors including Bell Helicopter, Sikorsky Aircraft and Boeing Co. will pay $500,000 in restitution to the U.S. government to settle the allegations, court documents indicate.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court against Wellman after employee Bradley Keller filed a complaint under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. Keller had worked in areas of the factory responsible conducting various tests on the metal to ensure it met quality standards. He said after he reported the improper testing and falsification of records between 2014 and 2021 he was laid off, but documents indicated he was later rehired.
Keller will receive $90,000 out of the settlement amount under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claim act. The company also must pay him $15,000 to settle a retaliation claim and his attorneys more than $63,000.
A U.S. Department of Justice official said in a statement that proper testing is critical for ensuring the proper performance of the equipment that is provided to the military.
“We will hold accountable those who knowingly falsify or fail to conduct required tests and put our military at risk.” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the department’s civil division.
In the settlement agreement the company denies the allegations but indicated the case was settled to avoid the delay, uncertainty, inconvenience and expense of protracted litigation of the claims.
The company and its attorney did not immediately reply to a message.
The agreement does not prevent the government from investigating further and pursuing criminal charges against some individuals if warranted. The company must cooperative with any such investigation.