Invoking secrecy to scuttle lawsuit against military contractor

Old Blog Import

Dr. Schwartz should be a hero — instead her case is getting scuttled by government privacy clauses that aren’t necessarily even relevant to her case!

The case began when Dr. Schwartz, a senior engineer in 1995 and 1996 at TRW Inc., a military contractor owned by the Northrop Grumman Corporation, accused her employer of faking test results on a prototype antimissile sensor meant to distinguish enemy warheads from decoys. After TRW fired her, Dr. Schwartz filed suit in 1996 under the False Claims Act, a federal law that allows heavy fines against contractors who lie about their government work.

Her case recently began moving into pretrial discovery of relevant papers. TRW, the defendant, which has long denied wrongdoing, subpoenaed 38 military documents, including one that spelled out the technical requirements for its work on the antimissile system. These are the documents the government says must not be made public.

… They said that Dr. Schwartz did not need secret documents to argue her case and that she claimed TRW was seeking them just to activate the privilege.

“Without these documents,” the lawmakers wrote, “TRW will argue that it cannot properly defend itself, and the case will likely be dismissed before the facts are ever vetted.”

NY Times