BREAKING NEWS – $5 Million Settlement in the Case of U.S. Ex. Rel. Palombo

Price Benowitz is happy to report a $5 Million settlement in the False Claims Act case filed by our client Robert J. Palombo.

Mr. Palombo filed the case under the U.S. False Claims Act in 2013, but the facts have only recently become public because such cases are filed under seal. While Pacific Architects and Engineers LLC or “PAE” has admitted no fault in paying to settle the matter, Mr. Palombo will earn an award as the “relator” or whistleblower in the case. The False Claims Act provides awards to a plaintiff whose case results in a collection by the government as an incentive to reporting fraud.

After Mr. Palombo was hired by PAE to work on filling positions in programs to support State Department missions in Afghanistan, Haiti, Lebanon and South Sudan, he became upset when he felt personnel were not being screened properly. He felt the contracts required discipline checks and developed references for such personnel to be hired. Mr. Palombo also obviously felt the risks of hiring people who were not properly screened were serious. Mr. Palombo also felt that that he had a duty to try and fix this problem. He reported the situation to PAE management and eventually filed the case and worked with the government to help achieve the settlement.

In announcing the settlement U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Channing D. Phillips said:

“This settlement affirms our commitment to hold government contractors accountable for properly screening employees, particularly those who work alongside our government’s personnel in fragile areas of the world,” Phillips said. “Our office will continue to investigate and seek appropriate recoveries from contractors who do not meet their obligations.”

The False Claims Act’s anti-retaliation provisions also allow plaintiffs to sue for retaliation suffered when they attempt to prevent their employer from committing fraud against the government. Mr. Palombo felt that he suffered such retaliation while PAE said they fired him in a reduction in force. Again, while PAE admitted no fault Mr. Palombo received an additional settlement for his retaliation claim.

If you would like to know more about the case the Department of Justice Press Release our firm’s Press Release and an article from Law 36O are below.