RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – A pair of truck drivers who transported fuel during the war in Iraq failed to prove that the company that fired them had defrauded the U.S. government, the 4th Circuit ruled.
David L. Wilson and James Warren started working for Kellogg Brown & Root in 2003. Their job was to drive fuel from Kuwait to Iraq in the war effort.
Wilson and Warren complained to their superiors that their vehicles were not being properly maintained, and tasks such as oil changes, air filter changes and windshield replacements were not getting done.
They also complained of improper security after items were repeatedly stolen from their trucks. KBR responded to these complaints by firing the drivers, the plaintiffs said.
In their lawsuit, the truck drivers alleged that the KBR had defrauded the U.S. government by promising to do work it had no intention of performing.
The federal appeals court upheld a ruling for KBR. Writing for the majority, Judge James Harvie Wilkinson ruled that the truck drivers were trying to convert a breach of contract case into a fraud complaint covered by the False Claims Act.
If the court were to allow this precedent, Wilkinson wrote, “The prospect of litigation in government contracting would literally have no end.”
KBR’s contract with the government stipulated that the company had to keep vehicles “in safe and operating condition and good appearance.” Wilkinson found that failure to meet that standard does not constitute an objective falsehood.
“This misguided journey must come to an end.”