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Thread: DOJ sues First Choice Body Armor

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    DOJ sues First Choice Body Armor

    http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2009/August/09-civ-763.html

    Monday, August 3, 2009

    U.S. Sues First Choice Armor & Equipment for Providing Defective Bullet-Proof Vests to Law Enforcement Agencies

    The United States has filed a False Claims Act lawsuit against First Choice Armor & Equipment Inc. and its founder, Edward Dovner, for submitting false claims for bullet-proof vests purchased by the United States for federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, the Justice Department announced today.

    First Choice, which manufactured and sold bullet-proof vests containing Zylon fiber from 2000- 2005, marketed its vests to law enforcement agencies as a thinner and more lightweight alternative to other bullet-proof vests. The United States alleges that at the same time First Choice was selling its Zylon bullet-proof vests, the company and its founder knew of significant manufacturing and degradation problems in the Zylon fiber that rendered the material unsafe for ballistic use. In fact, when the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice tested eight of First Choice’s bullet-proof vests in 2005, all failed.

    The United States has also sued Mr. Dovner and Karen Herman, Mr. Dovner’s wife and First Choice’s president, for a fraudulent conveyance – a transfer of property that is made to swindle, hinder or delay a creditor, or to put such property beyond his or her reach – in violation of the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act. The government alleges that after learning of the investigation into Zylon bullet-proof vests, Mr. Dovner and Ms. Herman removed more than $5 million from First Choice. Mr. Dovner then purchased a Ferrari, a Maserati and a private jet through various shell companies.

    "By providing defective bullet-proof vests to the nation’s law enforcement officers, First Choice put the lives of those officers at risk," stated Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. "The government’s investigation has determined that bullet-proof vest manufacturers, such as First Choice, wasted taxpayer dollars by failing to address these problems even after they were warned about them."

    The United States is already pursuing lawsuits against Toyobo Co., the manufacturer of the Zylon fiber used in the First Choice bullet-proof vests, as well as Second Chance Body Armor and Honeywell International Inc., two other companies that manufactured Zylon vests or components for those vests. The government has previously settled for more than $47 million with five other entities that allegedly were involved in the manufacture or sale of defective Zylon vests.

    Assistant Attorney General West acknowledged the cooperation between the many government agencies participating in this ongoing investigation, including the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the General Services Administration Office of the Inspector General, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Department of Energy Office of the Inspector General, the U.S. Agency for International Development Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Defense Contracting Audit Agency.

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    I wonder if they could tie any officer deaths to vests failing, and if so, could they file negligent homicide charges?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparks2112 View Post
    I wonder if they could tie any officer deaths to vests failing, and if so, could they file negligent homicide charges?
    I'm not an attorney, but probably a bridge too far legally. Kinda like when they convicted that mom involved in the Myspace hoax that resulted in a teen suicide for illegal accessing of a computer system merely for violating the Myspaces terms of service. The conviction was later tosses and it was determined the statute was stretched to fit the situation because everyone agreed the person involved was a douchebag and deserved it. However, when you stretch the law like that it can have dangerous implications to more innocent situations.

    I hope they pay through the nose in the lawsuit if there isn't any applicable criminal statute though, and again I am not an attorney so maybe there is. It sure sounds like they are looking for criminal charges judging from the alphabet soup investigating them at the end of the article!
    Last edited by BrianS; 08-05-09 at 15:50.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianS View Post
    I'm not an attorney, but probably a bridge too far legally. Kinda like when they convicted that mom involved in the Myspace hoax that resulted in a teen suicide for illegal accessing of a computer system for violating Myspaces's terms of service. The conviction was later tosses and it was determined the statute was stretched to fit the situation because everyone agreed the person involved was a douchebag and deserved it. However, when you stretch the law like that it can have dangerous implications to more innocent situations.

    I hope they pay through the nose in the lawsuit if there isn't any applicable criminal statute though, and again I am not an attorney so maybe there is. It sure sounds like they are looking for criminal charges judging from the alphabet soup investigating them at the end of the article!
    One can only hope.

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    Oceanside, CA Police Officer Tony Zeppetella was killed when his Second Chance Zylon vest failed in a OIS incident; several other officers have been wounded when their Zylon vests failed.

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    ToddG Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Sparks2112 View Post
    I wonder if they could tie any officer deaths to vests failing, and if so, could they file negligent homicide charges?
    This shouldn't be difficult at all.

    1. Vest is rated by manufacturer to stop threat-X.
    2. Vest is penetrated by threat-X.
    3. Officer is wounded or killed.


    Pretty simple to find duty, breach, damage, causality from where I sit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ToddG View Post
    This shouldn't be difficult at all.

    1. Vest is rated by manufacturer to stop threat-X.
    2. Vest is penetrated by threat-X.
    3. Officer is wounded or killed.


    Pretty simple to find duty, breach, damage, causality from where I sit.
    Ah, but will they pursue it. That's the question.

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    Somewhat related to DocGKR's post -

    In Wound Ballistics Review, Volume 3, Number 4, 1998, there's an article written by Duncan MacPherson, "A Body Armor Penetration Rumor," that explains the reason why the Winchester 127gr +P+ RA9SXTP bullet was able to penetrate some body armor. According to MacPherson, it's not due to any special aspect of the bullet design nor does its performance represent any new dynamics in armor penetration. He says it's due to a minor flaw in the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) body armor certification test protocol:

    "There are two principal limitations in [the NIJ] rating system. The first limitation is that all armor with the same rating (e.g., passes level 2A and fails level 2) does not have identical performance; this is obvious (because there is no attempt to, or mechanism, for evaluating intermediate performance), but is often overlooked. The second limitation is that different bullet designs do not necessarily have the same relative efficiency in penetrating the quite different armor designs of different manufacturers; this whole area is not well modeled either analytically or experimentally."

    FWIW, I grew up in Oceanside, where Ofcr . Zeppetella was gunned down. (Dad was a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton next door.) Both my sisters worked for O'side PD. As a kid I was delivered home to my parents on more than one occasion in the back of an OPD cruiser because I was being a shit. Zeppetella's murder hits close to home.
    Last edited by Shawn Dodson; 08-07-09 at 09:06.
    Shawn Dodson

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    A former NATICK contractor told me he thought the reason SXTs were getting through body armor had something to do with cutting. I've seen them go through... Dunno why, don't care why. I like that load.

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    Great! My department is purchasing vests from First Choice!

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