In late April, media outlets around the nation’s capital reported that problems were detected with concrete that was poured in a $2.6 billion project to extend rail service to Dulles International Airport. More recently, news reports emerged that allege that a subcontractor knowingly allowed the defective concrete panels to be installed in the project.
A former lab technician at the concrete company filed a whistleblower lawsuit in 2016 to address the potential fraud against the government. The Department of Justice announced on May 16, 2018 that it was joining in the lawsuit. The court file related to the lawsuit was also unsealed on the same day.
Private individuals can file lawsuits on behalf of the government when fraud is associated with a government contract. The initial whistleblower lawsuit remains under seal in federal court while the government conducts its own investigation and evaluate whether or not to join in the claim. Whistleblowers are entitled to receive a percentage of the proceeds recovered through settlement or verdict in the lawsuit.
Lawsuit Alleges Contractor Knew Of Defective Concrete
The whistleblower alleges that quality testing had determined that the concrete slabs had flaws that could lead to premature cracking, as well as potential excessive moisture and rust problems. The former lab tech says that his employer had him falsify the test reports to indicate that the concrete passed the testing, despite the truth found in early quality testing. Overall, the value of the subcontractor’s concrete product is estimated to be roughly $4 million.
News reports indicate that testing was conducted on roughly 1,700 concrete panels that were used in the massive construction project. The slabs were supposed to endure 100 years, according to recent media accounts.
However, in mixing the concrete, several problems arose. Too much water was used in many of the slabs. Some slabs did not have sufficient microscopic air bubbles, which allow the concrete to stand up as it freezes and thaws through the years. Steel reinforcements in some of the slabs were located too near the edge, which increases the risk of rust issues. Some panels needed to be replaced completely. Many of the installed slabs of concrete will need to be treated periodically to protect against excessive moisture.