Hyman Brickle & Son, Inc is a textile company operating out of Woonsocket, RI. The federal government alleges the company sold woolen blankets to the Department of Defense, which were made in India.
Violation of the Berry Amendment
It’s a requirement that the labor required to make goods sold to the U.S. Department of Defense come from the United States and not foreign nations. These requirements are legislated in the Berry Amendment.
The Berry Amendment restricts the Department of Defense from purchasing goods made outside the United States. The production also includes the act of labor, so goods cannot be physically made outside of the country, even if they are made with resources from the United States.
This legislation is an integral part of the American economy as it contributes heavily to the viability of the country’s textile and clothing production industry. It doesn’t just apply to textiles and is also concerned with food products.
The amendment came about in 1994 but originated in other forms dating back to 1941 with the Fifth Supplemental DoD Appropriations Act. The spirit of these acts is to protect the United States’ production base during times of war, though it now serves through times of peace.
An investigation into the sale of the woolen blankets states that Hyman Brickle did so willfully and knew that the products had been made with labor from India. By doing so, the government alleges that the textile company violated the False Claims Act.
The sale of nonconforming woolen blankets transpired in 2016, according to prosecutors.
Violation of the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act simply reads that an individual or company knowingly submitted false claims to the Federal Government to defraud it. If discovered, the government can pursue damages. They’re allowed to pursue what the damages were worth, along with $2,000 per claim.
In addition, the False Claims Act can hold violators liable for treble damages as well as a penalty linked to inflation. These amendments make the legislation a punishing piece of law to violate.
An interesting note about the False Claims Act is that it contains a provision in which private citizens can file suits on behalf of the government. Should they win the case, they can be entitled to a portion of the money recovered by the government.
Settlement and Damages
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bethany Wong was responsible for the litigation in the case with Hyman Brickle, the U.S. Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Northeast Field Office, and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, Major Procurement Fraud Field Office, who performed the investigation.
Hyman Brickle & Son and the federal government ultimately settled under the False Claims Act. The amount of settlement totaled $492,236 to the federal government. This figure includes full restitution according to the False Claims Act, where the federal government paid for goods not made in the United States. It also includes double the damages on relevant claims.