Colorado Springs, Colorado based Sanborn Map Company, Inc. (“Sanborn”) has agreed to settle False Claims Act allegations in a whistleblower’s qui tam case. According to the Department of Justice, the allegations stem from contracts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide photogrammetric mapping and geographic information system services.
Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs. In aerial photogrammetry, the camera is mounted on an aircraft and is usually pointed vertically towards the ground. Multiple overlapping photos of the ground are taken as the aircraft flies along a flight path and then the photographs are processed electronically to create the needed measurements.
According to the government, between 2005 and 2011, Sanborn maintained contracts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create maps for convoy routes in Iraq, military bases in the United States, and various other military and civilian projects. In 2011, a former Sanborn employee, James Peterson, filed a qui tam lawsuit alleging that Sanborn used unapproved foreign and domestic subcontractors in violation of the contract provisions, which required Sanborn to complete all of its contractual obligations in-house. In addition, the whistleblower alleged that Sanborn submitted claims to the government for work it performed that was unrelated to the contracts. The government alleged that these constituted submissions to the government in violation of the False Claims Act.
Sanborn has agreed to pay $2.1 million to settle the False Claims Act allegations. The whistleblower will receive a percentage of the proceeds as his reward under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.
The qui tam provisions state that if the government intervenes in a whistleblower’s lawsuit, the whistleblower would be entitled to a reward in an amount between 15-25% of any recovery by the government. If the government declines to intervene in the whistleblower’s action, the whistleblower would be entitled to a reward in an amount between 25-30% of any settlement proceeds or judgment amount. In either case, the amount could be lowered by the Court if it finds that the whistleblower planned and initiated the wrongful conduct at issue.
To find out more about qui tam lawsuits, read here.