United States ex rel. Rodriguez v. Hughes, et al., Trial Version
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NITA would like to acknowledge that this case file was produced through Emory’s Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution, with a special thanks to Reuben Guttman and the firm of Grant & Eisenhofer for their help in authoring the materials.
The four case files of United States ex rel. Rodriguez v. Hughes, et al. explore the suit brought by Juan Rodriguez, a prominent engineer, who acted as a whistleblower against his employer, Hughes Aircraft, for violations of the False Claims Act.
Richard Hughes (CEO of Hughes Aircraft) learned that the United States Department of Defense (DOD) was looking for a new helicopter to provide to the Mexican government as part of the United States' Mérida Initiative, which provided Mexico resources to help it fight its war against the drug cartels. Hughes, on behalf of Hughes Aircraft, entered into a sole source contract with the DOD. Hughes was favorably positioned to do so as it was the sole manufacturer of the Screaming Eagle helicopter S-70, the model the DOD was seeking to purchase.
Rodriguez's employment background put him in a position to ascertain whether his employer, Hughes Aircraft, was making false claims to the DOD. Initially, Rodriguez had been employed at Sikorsky Aircraft Inc., a predecessor of Hughes, working in the design and manufacture of the first Screaming Eagle helicopters. Later Sikorsky Aircraft was bought by Hughes Aircraft. During his tenure at Hughes, Rodriguez had designed and retrofitted early versions of the Screaming Eagle helicopter. When retrofitted with heavy missiles, one of the first versions, the UH-A, suffered cracks on landing. Accordingly, metals intended to help crash-proof the helicopter were added to the design. Hughes also started to employ Magnaflux testing to ensure that later versions of the Screaming Eagle did not have subsurface cracks.
Rodriguez claims that he saw cracks in the cabin of one of the Screaming Eagles Mexico helicopters, and that he also saw workers welding over the cracks. Rodriguez claimed that he considered the welding over of cracks in the cabin of the Screaming Eagle a "cover up" of the failure to conduct testing and thus an act of fraud—passing on defective helicopters to the governments of the United States and Mexico.
Table of contents
Complaint and Jury Demand Answer
General Allen Crystal
Ex 1—12/14/YR-6 Letter from Hughes to Kessler
Ex 1a—DOD Sole Source Justification
Ex 2—DOD Contract 76-415 Excerpts
Ex 3—Crystal Memo
Ex 4—Crystal Cell Phone Log
Ex 5—Rodriguez Cell Phone Photo
Ex 6—Testing Equipment
Ex 6a—Testing Equipment
Ex 7—HGS141-1 Certificate
Ex 8—HGS141-2 Certificate
Ex 9—HGS141-3 Certificate
Ex 10—HGS141-4 Certificate
Ex 11—HGS141-5 Certificate
Ex 12—HGS141-6 Certificate
Ex 13—HGS141-7 Certificate
Ex 14—HGS141-8 Certificate
Ex 15—New York Times Report
Ex 16—2/18/YR-2 Email from Crystal to Baker
Ex 17—5/5/YR-2 Email from Baker to Crystal
Ex 18—Baker’s Confidential Investigation Report
Ex 19—5/5/YR-2 Email from Crystal to Baker
Ex 20—5/7/YR-2 Email from Baker to Rodriguez
Ex 21—5/7/YR-2 Rodriguez Memo to File re Baker and Crash Investigation
Ex 22—Nita Journal Baker Obituary
Ex 23—Police Report
Ex 24—Baker Death Certificate
Ex 25—6/14/YR-2 Letter from Rodriguez to Ginsberg
Ex 26—Affidavit by José Arroyo
Ex 27—Lozano and Rodriguez Facebook Messages