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DOJ Settles with Silver Line Concrete Supplier

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

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Late last month, the Department of Justice announced a $1 million settlement with Universal Concrete Products Corp. and its co-owner and president Donald Faust Jr., for civil allegations related to the company falsifying concrete test reports, certifying panels that were not made to specification for phase two of Washington Metro’s $5.8 billion Silver Line extension.

Neither the company nor its co-owner admitted to any wrongdoing. Universal Concrete created the panels for a $6.1 million related to the Silver Line project. In total, 1,500 panels were potentially an issue; 20 percent of that number actually had flaws.

Silver Line Saga

In May it was revealed that issues with the panels discovered along the Silver Line Metro extension in Northern Virginia were apparently known in 2016, according to the timing of a whistleblower lawsuit.

Ryan Stavely, CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Late last month, the Department of Jusice announced a $1 million settlement with Universal Concrete Products Corp. and its co-owner and president Donald Faust Jr., for civil allegations related to the company falsifying concrete test reports, certifying panels that were not made to specification for phase two of Washington Metro’s $5.8 billion Silver Line extension.

More than a year before the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and contractor Capital Rail Constructors were made aware of the issue with the panels, Nathan Davidheiser, who worked for subcontractor Universal Concrete Products, filed the whistleblower lawsuit. Universal Concrete Products produced the faulty panels; Davidheiser alleged he was instructed by his employer to lie about quality-control tests during their fabrication.

According to WTOP, both the Airports Authority and CRC noted that they recognized flaws in the concrete panels in the beginning of 2017. As a result, the FBI and U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General conducted an investigation, as federal money was spent on the second phase of the project.

In July, the state of Virginia, along with the federal government, joined Davidheiser's suit against Universal Concrete Products for allegedly knowingly providing precast concrete panels that did not meet contract specifications, along with cutting corners regarding quality-control requirements and falsifying records related to panel quality. The same month, testing of panels suggested that the problem may not be as widespread as once feared. Moving forward, the contractor will be providing protective silane coatings every 10 years.

Andrew Nolan, who served as QC manager at the firm and allegedly oversaw the cooking of the books, pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

DOJ Settlement, Moving Forward

Though the DOJ’s announcement signifies the end of the government’s involvement in the lawsuit, Davidheiser’s claim of wrongful termination will be moving forward, according to The Washington Post.

“He feels very vindicated by the news of the settlement, as he was the one who raised the concerns initially and it cost him his job,” said Nicholas Woodfield, an attorney representing Davidheiser.

Universal Concrete noted that it was pleased to close the case “pursuant to the settlement agreement,” adding that the company was confident in its defense, and “the settlement amount is less than what legal and expert costs would have been through a trial. Settlement was the prudent course."

Editor's Note: Corrected spelling error on Feb. 8, 2019, at 9:33 a.m.

   

Tagged categories: Government; Infrastructure; Lawsuits; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Quality control

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