Federal judge dismisses government suit against Bollinger

Island100OCTOBER 22, 2013—A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana yesterday dismissed a False Claims Act suit over the alleged failure of eight U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat hulls that Bollinger Shipyards Inc., Lockport, LA, modified under the Deepwater Program.

In a statement, Chris Bollinger, President of Bollinger Shipyards, Inc., said: “All of us in the Bollinger Shipyards family are gratified by the court's thorough and well-reasoned decision dismissing with prejudice the Department of Justice's allegations against Bollinger relating to our work on the Deepwater project.  We look forward to putting this chapter behind us and to focusing our efforts on best serving our customers' needs, including those of the Coast Guard and our other customers.

“Bollinger has not discussed this case publicly before, and we will not have any further comment at this time. We believe the public record speaks for itself.”

In dismissing the claim, U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance said that the government had failed to prove fraud. The judge dismissed the Justice Department's FCA, common law fraud claims against Bollinger in a suit brought in 2011 in the wake of a failed Deepwater acquisition program plan to extend the lives of eight 110 ft Island Class cutters that included adding 13 feet to the stern to make a high-speed launching ramp for a smaller patrol craft.

As we reported in an earlier story, when put into service, the first vessel to be converted, Matagorda (WPB 1303), suffered hull failure. Efforts to repair the Matagorda and the other converted vessels were unsuccessful. The Coast Guard deemed the cutters unseaworthy and they were taken out of service.

The boats were modified at an approximate cost of $78 million.

In court papers, Judge Vance wrote, “The United States has failed to allege facts that allow the inference that Bollinger acted knowingly or with reckless disregard or deliberate ignorance of the truth. Because its First Amended Complaint lacks a plausible theory of fraudulent inducement of acceptance of delivery or of payment, the Court must dismiss the United States' FCA claims.”

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