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Huntington Beach Manufacturer Faces Whistleblower Case by Ex-Employee

January 29, 2015

Posted in Business Litigation, Employment Law

photo - whistleblower by Steve DepoloA “whistleblower” claim is a lawsuit filed by a current or former employee who alleges the defendant retaliated against him or her because of a report within a company or to a government agency of wrongdoing. This kind of cause of action is a combination fraud and employment law claim.

The Orange County Register reports that Hoang Nguyen, a former assembly worker for Ameri-King Corp., a Huntington Beach based aircraft part manufacturer, alleged in a whistleblower lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court in December that the company,

  • Repaired faulty parts and resold then as new parts approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
  • Ordered employees to remove “Made in China” labels on airplane parts and replace them with “Made in the USA” labels.

If you fly, you may not want to learn about Nguyen’s allegations, which include,

  • He raised safety concerns with his supervisors and was told not to worry.
  • A supervisor told him that no single company is held liable in an airplane crash because an airplane “has a thousand parts and any single one of them could have resulted in the crash.”

The complaint states Nguyen notified the FAA of the issue, which launched an investigation of the company in 2012. He claims he was fired in retaliation for his whistleblowing. The FAA subsequently issued a report finding that Ameri-King manufactured and sold “multi-axis G-switches and associated mounting trays” without FAA approval.

The Register asked Ameri-King for a comment, but they refused.

Counterfeits of any kind allow those involved to profit from the work of others, but while a fake Rolex will stop keeping time, a cheap airline part not engineered or manufactured to the correct specification can result in a crashed airplane, injuries and deaths. The worst confirmed airline accident caused by counterfeit airplane parts occurred in 1989 when a plane carrying 55 passengers from Oslo to Hamburg, Germany, crashed into the North Sea, reports the Christian Science Monitor. There were no survivors.

There are various state and federal laws intended to protect whistleblowers. Generally, a successful plaintiff would get a percentage of the amount the employer allegedly gained through the fraud, reinstatement, back pay and special damages.

Employers need to be aware that failing to comply with laws and regulations could carry heavy penalties. If an employee raises concerns about these actions or reports it to a government agency, you could face additional legal action if you retaliate against the employee as well. If you have questions about whistleblower lawsuits and how you can prevent and defend them, contact my office.