On March 14, U.S. Federal Judge Royce Lamberth granted Halliburton’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed Mr. Barko’s claims against Halliburton, filed under the False Claims Act (FCA), which, along the way, resulted in important rulings protecting the attorney client privilege. The case is United States of America ex rel. Harry Barko v. Halliburton Company, et al. As a result of Judge Lamberth’s ruling, this long and protracted litigation may be nearing an end after twelve years and several decision by the federal district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The case involves a Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), a Department of Defense contractor providing support services to the U.S. military during the war in Iraq, and KBR’s contracting practices. Harry Barko was a former KBR subcontract administrator in Iraq from July 2004 to June 2015. His FCA complaint alleges that KBR submitted false claims to the federal government and otherwise engaged in improper procurement practices with its subcontractor Daoud & Partners.
The principal issues decided by the federal courts in Washington involved Halliburton’s argument that certain discovery requests made by Barko implicated important attorney-client privilege issues, which were decided in Halliburton’s favor (the DC Circuit opinions are reported In re Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., et al. in 2014 and In re Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., et al. in 2015). The Judge Lamberth concluded that while “Mr. Barko has presented an incredible amount of information to this Court regarding, among many other things, KBR’s subcontracting practices and other activities in Iraq… not every instance of waste, fraud, mismanagement, or breach of contract translates into a False Claims Act violation.” Moreover, Mr. Barko failed to present admissible evidence to support his clams, and ultimately failed to make a FCA case that would survive a motion for summary judgment.