Hexcel Corp. Pays $15 Million for Role in Sale of Defective Bullet-proof Vests

Hexcel Corp. of Stamford, Conn., has agreed to pay the federal government $15 million to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act in connection with its role in the manufacture and sale of defective Zylon bullet-proof vests to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Justice Department recently announced.

As part of the agreement with the government, the manufacturer has pledged its cooperation in the government's on-going investigation of other participants involved in the fraudulent conduct.

The federal govenment alleges that Hexcel wove Zylon fiber supplied by Toyobo Co. into ballistic fabric used in bullet-proof vests sold by Second Chance Body Armor; DHB Inc. and its subsidiaries, Point Blank Body Armor and Protective Apparel Corp. of America; Armor Holdings and its subsidiaries, American Body Armor and Safariland; and Gator Hawk Armor. These vests were purchased by the federal govenment directly and by various state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, which were reimbursed with federal funds.

The federal government alleged that Hexcel knew the Zylon manufactured by Toyobo was defective and degraded quickly when exposed to heat, light and humidity. Additionally, the government alleged the company knew Toyobo provided Hexcel with "Red Thread" Zylon, which was weaker than standard Zylon.

In July 2005, the U.S. Justice Department filed a complaint against Second Chance Body Armor and the Toyobo Co., seeking to recover damages relating to the sale of defective Zylon bulletproof vests to the federal government. In June of this year, the government filed a lawsuit against Toyobo Co. Ltd. of Japan and its American subsidiary, Toyobo America Inc., for their roles in the manufacture and sale of defective Zylon bullet-proof vests to U.S., state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.

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