Four years after he filed it, a former convoy commander’s False Claims Act complaint against KBR Inc. and its parent company, Halliburton Inc., has been unsealed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.
The move follows the Justice Department’s decision not to intervene in the litigation Peter J. Duprey filed under seal in June 2007, in which he says KBR not only allowed but encouraged timesheet fraud by truck drivers at its Theater Transportation Mission division in Iraq.
Duprey claims KBR “institutionalized … fictitious timekeeping methods” for the drivers in order to pad its profits on a cost-plus contract with the U.S. government.
Among other things, the complaint says, KBR had an unwritten corporate policy that the division’s drivers were to enter at least 12 hours per shift regardless of how long they actually worked.
And, “despite official written policies to the contrary,” Duprey alleges, the company would not question or scrutinize timesheets showing 84 to 100 hours per week. In practice, he alleges, drivers were working no more than eight hours a day on average.
Duprey claims he followed KBR’s Code of Business Conduct in reporting his concerns and was told, at different times, to “back off,” to “grow eyes in the back of his head” and not to discuss the matter while still in Iraq. The Alabama resident returned to the U.S. nine months into his contract with KBR, in January 2006.
Lead plaintiffs’ counsel Robin Page West, of Cohan & West PC in Baltimore, was traveling and could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
No attorney was identified for Halliburton or KBR. Bikram Bandy, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who represents the companies in other litigation, referred calls for comment to his partner, Ray Biagini, who did not return a phone call Wednesday.
No explanation was given for the four-year period between the filing and the government’s decision not to intervene.
Retired Judge Peter J. Messitte’s June 30 decision to unseal the complaint does not affect any documents filed before that date. It says Duprey may proceed to serve the defendants and requires all parties to give the government notice as the case progresses. The government also may take depositions and intervene “for good cause” in the future, Messitte wrote.
The case is U.S. ex rel Duprey v. Halliburton Inc. et al., USDMD No. PJM 07-1487.