Concrete Firm Pays $1M to Settle Metro Lawsuit Over Faulty Product Used on Silver Line

Universal Concrete Products is completing its contract

What to Know

  • Officials found significant problems with the durability of the concrete used in the largest transportation project in the D.C. area.
  • Project leaders identified 1,750 panels produced by Universal Concrete Products of Stowe, Pennsylvania, as areas of concern.
  • More than 1,000 sections of concrete will need significant waterproofing every 10 years.

A concrete company is paying $1 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit alleging it falsified test data on materials used in the multibillion-dollar expansion of the Washington region's Metrorail system.

Federal prosecutors in Alexandria announced the civil settlement with Universal Concrete Products of Stowe, Pennsylvania, on Monday. The lawsuit alleged the company falsified records to hide tests showing that the concrete's air content would make it more likely to crack.

The concrete has been installed during Phase II construction of Metro's Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County. Metro officials say they will have to put a special coating on the concrete to keep it from cracking.

The settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing, but a company manager has already pleaded guilty in a related criminal case and been sentenced to a year in prison.

A lawyer and marketing director for the concrete company did not return emails and calls seeking comment.

Universal was a subcontractor on the Metrorail project. The primary contractor is not implicated in the settlement.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Alexandria, said the investigation is ongoing.

The whistleblower lawsuit was initially brought in 2016 by a former Universal employee, Nathan Davidheiser. The federal government and the state of Virginia joined the case after reviewing his allegations.

Under federal law, whistleblowers such as Davidheiser are usually eligible to receive 15 to 25 percent of any settlement, said Nicholas Woodfield, one of his attorneys.

Woodfield said his client feels vindicated by the settlement and is still pursuing a claim that the company illegally retaliated against him for exposing the wrongdoing.

The next section of the Silver Line is set to open in 2020, but more than 1,000 sections of concrete will need significant waterproofing every 10 years.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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