Government Intervenes in Whistleblower Suit Alleging Misuse of Funds
The Department of Justice announced that the U.S. has intervened in a qui tam action against Texas-based Fluor Hanford, Inc. and its parent corporation, Fluor Corporation (collectively “Fluor”). The complaint was initially filed in the Eastern District of Washington in 2011 by former Fluor employee Loydene Rambo under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.
According to the Complaint, between 1999 and 2008, Fluor had a contract with the Department of Energy to provide a variety of services at the Hanford Nuclear Site in Washington State. Part of the contract involved the operation and management of the Hazardous Materials Management and Emergency Response (“HAMMER”) Center. The HAMMER Center, a training facility for Hanford Nuclear Site workers, emergency personnel, first responders and law enforcement personnel, is funded with federal monies.
The government contends that the contract required Fluor to certify that it would not use federal monies for lobbying activities. According to the whistleblower, between 2005 and 2008, contrary to its certifications to the Department of Energy, Fluor utilized federal funds to lobby Congress and other government officials to increase funding for the HAMMER Center. The whistleblower alleged that Flour’s actions were a misuse of federal funds and violated the False Claims Act.
The government has 120 days to file its Complaint and take over as the Plaintiff in the case. If the government is successful in proving its claims or the case is settled, in accordance with the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, the whistleblower may be entitled to share in any recovery or settlement amount.