ILNews

Defense firm appeals $277M verdict for Humvee maker

Dave Stafford
October 21, 2013
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A defense contractor is appealing an Indiana judge’s order that it pay $277 million to the Mishawaka-based manufacturer of Army Humvee military vehicles. The contractor overcharged for armor kits to retrofit the vehicles during the bloodiest days of the Iraq war, the judge ruled.

United Kingdom-based BAE Systems Inc. and its subsidiary firms last month filed notice with the Indiana Court of Appeals that it would appeal rulings by now-retired St. Joseph Superior Judge Michael P. Scopelitis, who awarded damages to AM General LLC.

Attorneys from Washington, D.C.-based Covington & Burling LLP, an American Lawyer A-List firm, last week applied for temporary admission to represent BAE. No attorneys have appeared on the appellate docket for AM General, which had its own high-powered Washington counsel in the trial court from the firm of Williams & Connolly.

Scopelitis in April issued a series of rulings including a 194-page order that BAE Systems pay AM General judgments totaling $277,939,519 for breach of contract and violations of most-favored customer clauses. 

The notice of appeal indicates it follows denial of a motion to correct error in the trial court. No further proceedings have been scheduled in the case and the trial court transcript has not yet been completed, according to case filings.

Scopelitis’ findings painted a picture of rampant overcharges from BAE and its predecessor companies that AM General passed on to the Army, even as AM General sought to determine true costs. Armor Holdings, which developed the retrofit armor kits, was purchased by BAE, and Armor Holdings’ executives received multi-million-dollar payments and retention bonuses, Scopelitis noted.

But Scopelitis wrote that “BAE was concerned … that disclosing its costs data would reveal excessive profits,” including markups on armor kits of 36 to more than 44 percent, well above the 5 percent to 15 percent profit the Army typically deems reasonable for tank and vehicle purchases.

BAE noted its intent to appeal after the ruling and disagreed with the findings in what it called an “extremely complex contract dispute.”

“BAE Systems is firmly committed to the principles of fair contracting and providing both value and performance in support of its many government and commercial customers,” the company said after Scopelitis’ ruling.

 

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  1. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

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