Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Man Blows Whistle on Military Aircraft Parts: Courthouse News Service

DALLAS (CN) - Triumph Group's aircraft division fired an employee for complaining about nonconformities in assemblies of the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft used by the Army and Air Force, the man claims in court.

Jerry Pollinger sued Grand Prairie-based Vought Aircraft Division of Triumph Aerostructures - a subsidiary of Triumph Group - in Federal Court on June 23. Sikorsky Aircraft, manufacturer of the Blackhawk, and Boeing Co., manufacturer of the Globemaster, are not parties to the lawsuit.

Pollinger, an inspector, said his job, under federal regulations, was to report nonconforming parts in the manufacturing of aircraft assemblies. He claims he observed assemblies for both aircraft being certified as complying with requirements when they did not.

"Specifically, in the case of the Blackhawk helicopter, defendant or one of its predecessors in interest, between 2007 and 2010 ... installed in one or more of the assemblies parts that were not fit for use on any of the helicopters," the 10-page complaint states.

"Defendant prepared false inspection reports to represent conformance with the requirements. Defendant failed to drill certain holes in their proper location on certain assemblies as dictated by the requirements; defendant drilled such holes improperly," according to the complaint.

In one case, Pollinger claims, employees dented a Blackhawk assembly "caused by horseplay" and Vought failed to perform repairs.

Pollinger claims that between 2010 and 2012 Triumph failed to properly inspect "substantial portions" of Globemaster assemblies.

"Defendant bent parts not suitable for installation in assemblies in order to make them fit, contrary to the requirements," the complaint states. "Defendant falsified documents relating which parts had been scrapped ... defendant used defective parts in the manufacturing of assemblies." And Vought failed to remove and scrap parts that were ordered by a third-party inspector, Pollinger claims.

Pollinger says he reported the violations to his supervisors, senior management and human resources representatives.

He says he was then falsely criticized for his job performance, unfairly disciplined, isolated and was the target of resentment, among other things.

Pollinger said he was suspended without pay and ultimately fired in April 2012 after he refused to confirm compliance of certain Globemaster assemblies because he had not personally inspected them. He said the pretextual reason given for his firing was "insubordinate behavior."

Triumph did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Pollinger seeks actual and punitive damages for retaliatory discrimination under the Whistleblower Protection Provision of the False Claims Act.

He is represented by Robert Goodman with Kilgore Kilgore in Dallas. 


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