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On Friday, the Department of Justice announced a settlement with Lincoln Fabrics Ltd., a Canadian weaver of ballistic fabrics and its American subsidiary. The companies have agreed to pay the United States $4 million to settle charges brought by the DOJ under the False Claims act for their role in supplying defective material to makers of bullet proof vests, bought by the federal government and by state, local and/or tribal law enforcement.
Lincoln Fabrics uses a fiber called Zylon to weave the material used in making bullet proof vests. According to claims by the DOJ, Zylon loses its ballistic capabilities quickly when exposed to heat and humidity. The Department further alleged that Lincoln knew about this defect as early as December 2001, but continued to use Zylon in its products until August, 2005. It was at that time that, according to the DOJ, the National Institute of Justice issued a report that Zylon degraded quickly in ballistic applications. At that time, all American body armor manufacturers stopped using Zylon. The DOJ filed its suit in October, 2009.
This settlement by the DOJ is part of a larger investigation of the body armor industry's use of Zylon in its products. As part of its settlement, Lincoln Fabrics has agreed to cooperate with the government's on-going investigation. The U. S. Government has already settled with six other participants in the Zylon body armor industry for over $54 million. Additionally, lawsuits are still pending against Toyobo Co., Honeywell Inc., Second Chance Body Armor, Inc. and First Choice Armor Inc, makers and distributors of the allegedly defective body armor.
"Companies that knowingly sell the government defective bullet proof vests not only commit fraud, they put the lives of our law enforcement women and men at risk," said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. "We will pursue vigorously allegations that these or any other companies manufactured flawed vests, knew about their problems, yet sold them anyway."