Rolls-Royce must answer whistleblowers’ allegations that the company violated manufacturing standards, concealed defects in military aircraft engines, and retaliated against workers who raised concerns, a federal judge ruled Monday.
Judge William T. Lawrence of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana ruled the lawsuit brought by two former Rolls-Royce safety employees will go forward. Thomas McArtor and Keith Ramsey claim in United States of America ex rel. Thomas McArtor and Keith Ramsey v. Rolls-Royce Corporation, No. 1:08-CV-0133, that they were terminated in retaliation for complaining to the company about safety concerns.
Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law in Chicago represents McArtor and Ramsey. The firm’s suit alleges that Rolls-Royce used scrap and defective material and subsequently began using a separate, undisclosed system to track defects. Plaintiffs claim the company failed to comply with a government quality assurance plan in an effort to retain and attract more government contracts. The suit also alleges that Rolls-Royce retaliated against other employees who raised safety concerns.
Messages left for Indianapolis-based Rolls-Royce spokesman Joel Reuter were not immediately returned Tuesday. Reuter told Bloomberg News Service on Monday that he couldn’t immediately comment on the court’s decision.
The suit seeks damages only on Rolls-Royce’s military contracts, which include engines for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, V22 Osprey, C130 Hercules, C130J Super Hercules, Kiowa Warrior and MH-6 Little Bird, RQ-4 Global Hawk, E2 Hawkeye and P3 Orion. The suit also alleges that the safety violations overlap “dual use” engines installed on military and civilian aircraft.
Loevy attorney Mike Kanovitz said in an interview the legal action focuses on engines and parts manufactured in Rolls-Royce’s Indianapolis division beginning in 2003. He said the allegations potentially open the company to damages under the False Claims Act for scores of aircraft engines.
“The government doesn’t have reliability in the product that the government was promised,” Kanovitz said.