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Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016 claiming that he would “Make America Great Again” by altering international trade rules to bring back jobs from foreign countries. Whatever one thinks of Trump’s economic policies, it appears obvious that large swaths of blue collar American workers have seen their standards of living decline over the past 30 to 40 years due, at least in part, to manufacturing jobs being outsourced to foreign counties.
Despite Trump making trade and foreign outsourcing of jobs hot political issues, Americans are mostly unaware of existing laws that favor manufacturing jobs within the United States. Moreover, American citizens are mostly unaware that they can be rewarded financially for assisting the federal government in enforcing those laws.
Various laws and customs duties protect American jobs and industries.
"Buy American" laws generally apply to businesses contracting with the federal government — they are required to certify that the goods they sell to the government and components used in construction contracts with the government are made in the U.S.A. or in certain other countries with whom we have trade agreements.
Tariffs — or customs duties — also apply to certain products from specific countries due to unfair competition / pricing that hurts American businesses. The tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum that President Trump announced in early 2018 are a good example.
Of course a law doesn't mean much if it can't be enforced. A primary way that "Buy American" and customs laws are enforced is through lawsuits brought by employees under the False Claims Act. In a nutshell, False Claims Act suits allow you to confidentially show your lawyer and the government how a business may be defrauding the government by lying about, in this case, the foreign origin of goods used in government contracting or proper payment of customs duties.
When you win, you score a victory for yourself, for the government, and for your fellow U.S. taxpayers. This is because:
Below are just a few examples of big wins under the False Claims Act. If you suspect you have witnessed fraud on the government, we encourage you to contact us for a free, confidential evaluation of your claims.
In 2015, the Department of Justice recovered $4.41 million against Medtronic for selling certain medical devices to the Veterans Administration (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Three whistleblowers filed a lawsuit on behalf of the government alleging that Medtronic falsely certified that the medical devices were manufactured in either the United States or one the countries designated in the Trade Agreements Act of 1979. They weren’t. The medical devices Medtronic sold to the government were manufactured in China and Malaysia, both of which were non-approved countries under the Trade Agreements Act (TAA). For bringing the False Claims Act lawsuit, the three whistleblowers received $749,700, roughly 17 percent of the government’s recovery against Medtronic.
In 2016, the Department of Justice recovered $3 million from Novum Structures for fraudulently using foreign materials in a construction project in violation of “Buy American” requirements which were incorporated into its contracts with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Of that recovery, $500,000 was a criminal fine for fraudulent concealment. The other $2.5 million of the recovery resolved a civil False Claims Act lawsuit brought by a whistleblower, who was awarded approximately $400,000, about 16 percent of the government’s recovery from the civil lawsuit.
In 2018, the Department of Justice recovered $10.5 million from Basset Mirror Company for making false statements on customs declarations to avoid paying “antidumping” customs duties on wooden bedroom furniture imported from China. “Antidumping” duties protect American companies from unfair competition from foreign imports which are sold below cost, typically due to subsidies from a foreign government designed to eliminate or undermine competing American businesses. During a five-year period, Basset falsely classified the imports as non-bedroom furniture on its official import documents to fraudulently avoid paying the customs duties for Chinese manufactured wooden bedroom furniture. The whistleblower who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the government against Basset was awarded $1.9 million.
In 2018, the Department of Justice recovered $2,338,879 from a textile importer, American Dawn, and from three of its executives, for intentionally misclassifying imported textiles, such as bath towels, as polishing cloths in order to pay lower tariffs. The whistleblower who filed the False Claims Act lawsuit which resulted in the government’s recovery received approximately 17 percent of the government’s recovery, about $400,000.