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Havian opens trial in damages phase of FCA case against top PVC water-pipe maker, J-M Eagle

Posted  October 11, 2018

Constantine Cannon partner Eric Havian launched the damages-phase of a trial against J-M Eagle with opening statements on October 10, 2018. As reported by Daniel Siegal in Law360, a Los Angeles federal jury will hear evidence in a long-running case by public entities in several states who bought large transmission water-pipe from the nation’s number one PVC pipe company. A November 2013 jury unanimously found in Phase I of the trial that J-M falsely stated that its pipe met federal strength standards. The Phase I trial involved five “exemplars” of the many public-entity plaintiffs: three municipal entities in California and two cities (one in Virginia and one in Nevada).

In the current trial (Phase II), jurors must now determine how much J-M must pay for the damage caused by its misrepresentations to the five exemplar plaintiffs. According to the Law360 article, Mr. Havian told the jury that some one-third of the pipe sold likely will fail before the time contemplated by industry standards. The cost to replace the pipe – which is buried and incorporated into infrastructure – would far exceed the price initially paid for the product. Mr. Havian encouraged the Phase II jury to consider the cost the plaintiffs incur in ensuring against premature pipe failures, along with False Claims Act civil penalties that apply for each claim. Federal and state False Claims Acts are used to hold entities who contract with the government accountable for submitting false claims for goods or services.

U.S. District Judge George Wu presides over the trial in the Central District of California. Along with other counsel for plaintiffs, Harry Litman of Constantine Cannon joins Mr. Havian as one of the lead counsel at trial. The five exemplar plaintiffs are the Calleguas Municipal Water District in Thousand Oaks, CA, Palmdale Water District in CA, South Tahoe Public Utility District in CA, the city of Norfolk, VA, and the city Reno, Nevada.

U.S. et al. v. J-M Manufacturing Co. et al., Case No. 5:06-cv-00055.

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Tagged in: CC Lawyers, Contract Non-Compliance, FCA Federal, FCA State, Government Procurement Fraud, Whistleblower Case,