United States District Court, D. Connecticut
UNITED STATES OF AMERCA EX. REL PETER J. BONZANI, JR, Plaintiff,
UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION ET AL., Defendants.
RULING RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS THE
THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT (DOC. NO. 84) AND PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION TO FILE SUR-REPLY IN OPPOSITION (DOC. NO 89)
C. Hall, United States District Judge.
Peter J. Bonzani, Jr. (“Bonzani”) filed suit, on
behalf of the United States of America, under the False
Claims Act, section 3729 et seq. of title 31 of the
United States Code, against defendants United Technologies
Corporation (“UTC”) and Pratt and Whitney
(“PW”) (collectively “defendants”).
See Third Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 83)
(“TAC”). Pending before the court are the
defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Third Amended Complaint
(Doc. No. 84) (“MTD”) and Bonzani's Motion to
File a Sur-Reply in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss (Doc.
No. 89) (“Mot. Sur-Reply”).
reasons stated below, the Motion to Dismiss is granted in
part and denied in part, with leave to replead, and the
Motion to file a Sur-Reply is granted.
January 1, 2008, the United States Air Force
(“USAF”) awarded Contract Award Identification
Number FA861108C2896 (“the Contract”) to PW. TAC
¶ 21. The Contract is a “cost-plus” contract
for the manufacture of the F119 engine, which are used in the
production of the USAF's F-22 military jet. Id.
¶¶ 14, 22. As of the filing of the TAC, PW had been
paid $3.7 billion pursuant to the Contract. Id. The
Contract is subject to both the Federal Acquisition
Regulation (“FAR”) and the Defense Federal
Acquisition Regulation Supplement (“DFARS”).
Id. ¶ 23.
parts for both the F-22 and the F-35 fighter jet engines,
including the Integrally Bladed Rotors (“IBRs”),
are manufactured at the PW plant in Middletown, Connecticut
(“Middletown Plant”). Id. ¶ 31.
During the manufacturing process, IBRs are spray-coated
according to detailed specifications, in order to create a
“knife edge seal” when the IBR rotates.
Id. ¶ 33. A proper seal is critical to proper
jet engine function. Id. ¶ 34. From 2012
through November 2015, all F-22 engine cores supplied to the
USAF under the Contract were assembled at the Middletown
Plant. Id. ¶ 35.
was hired full-time by PW in 2012 “to assist in all
aspects of robotic spray coating of military jet engine
parts.” Id. ¶ 20. In November 2015,
Bonzani was ordered to conduct a “root cause analysis
as to why . . . all test samples for the IBRs for the F119
jet engine were failing contractually required testing,
” when they had previously passed such testing.
Id. ¶ 36. During the course of his inspection,
Bonzani, along with another PW employee, determined that
“the use of a wrongly sized spray gun whose spray
plumes were unable to sufficiently coat the test piece”
had resulted in improper coating the representative samples
of IBRs used for testing purposes. Id. ¶¶
39-43. When Bonzani inquired as to whether any
production or testing changes had recently occurred, he was
informed that a new test apparatus had recently been
installed, and that samples began to fail testing after the
change in test apparatus. Id. ¶¶ 45-46. A
comparison of the old and new test apparatus revealed that
the old apparatus could be manipulated to move samples closer
to the spray gun, while the new, contractually compliant
apparatus, could not be manipulated in the same manner.
Id. ¶¶ 48-51.
Bonzani inquired as to how previous tests had been
successful, an employee at PW's Material Control
Laboratory (“MCL”), the lab responsible for
quality control testing of representative IBR samples, told
Bonzani that employees had “cheated” in the past.
Id. ¶¶ 58-59. The employee also told
Bonzani that the “cheating” involved moving the
IBR sample closer to the spray gun. Id. ¶¶
59, 278. Bonzani informed the Production Coatings Engineer at
the Middletown Plant of his findings. The engineer did not
deny knowledge of the fraudulent testing, but rather
responded that he had “inherited the problem.”
Id. ¶ 61.
informed two co-workers at PW's East Hartford location of
his findings the next morning, on November 20, 2015.
Id. ¶¶ 62-63. They responded that it was
common knowledge that the Middletown Plant had been
“taking short cuts on tests.” Id.
Bonzani also informed several members of PW management of his
findings later that same morning. Id. ¶ 64. On
the afternoon of the same day-November 20, 2015- Bonzani was
interrogated, placed on probation, and escorted from PW's
East Hartford facility. Id. ¶ 67. Ninety days
later, his employment with PW was terminated. Id.
withstand a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The
plausibility standard is not a probability requirement; the
pleading must show, not merely allege, that the pleader is
entitled to relief. Id. Legal conclusions and
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” are
not entitled to a presumption of truth. Id. However,