General Dynamics and Northrup Grumman Newport News are shipyards that build nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers for the United States Navy. The shipyards hired an Ohio company, Hunt Valve Company, as a subcontractor to provide thousands of valves used in critical applications on the Navy vessels. Though Navy contracts required the valves to be rigidly manufactured, tested, and inspected, this did not happen. Nevertheless, the shipyards accepted the valves and installed them in numerous vessels built with taxpayer dollars.
Though Navy contracts required the valves to be rigidly manufactured, tested, and inspected, this did not happen.
Tina and Bill Gonter worked at Hunt Valve Company, and at the direction of Federal Agencies, tape recorded hundreds of hours of conversations showing both the violations of federal law and the shipyards’ knowledge of it.
On March 16, 2001 the Gonters filed a False Claims Act case. For the next several years we worked closely with the Navy and several federal agencies to prosecute the case. As a direct result of those efforts, the United States Department of Justice prosecuted, indicated and convicted two Hunt Valve Company managers for criminal violations. The Department of Justice also intervened in the Gonters’ False Claims Act case against Hunt Valve Company in 2005 and settled that case for $750,000.
The Department of Justice did not intervene in the False Claims Act case against the shipyards instead empowering the Gonters to pursue that case on behalf of the United States. The shipyards settled the False Claims Act case in 2006 for $12.5 million and substantial attorneys fees. The Department of Justice agreed to pay the Gonters a 29% share of the settlement.