HS Founding Partner Bruce Heurlin Obtains a Top Arizona Verdict for 2011
Tucson, Arizona. A Tucson federal jury quickly rejected all claims of fraud brought by the U.S. Department of Justice against Tucson high-tech company Materials and Electrochemical Research Corp. (MER). The Defense verdict in the case was one of the top verdicts in Arizona in 2011.
The Justice Department filed the civil suit in May 2008 in U.S. District Court in Tucson, alleging MER violated the False Claims Act. The suit said portions of MER’s U.S. Small Business Innovation Research proposals were improperly signed and the company misrepresented the credentials of one scientist involved in funding agreements with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy. The quality of MER research or deliverables required under the government contracts was never at issue.
The two-week jury trial started Feb. 1. The jury deliberated for less than two hours and unanimously found in favor of MER on all allegations.
MER specializes in nanotechnologies, advanced materials, composites and rapid manufacturing of metal alloys for use in defense, space and commercial applications. The company has designed and fabricated a composite with radiation resistance for personnel in space that was tested on the International Space Station, developed elements of NASA’s X-43A scramjet vehicles for flights up to Mach 10, and developed processes for producing titanium at lower cost and for recycling nuclear fuel. MER has won numerous prestigious R&D 100 awards, has scores of U.S. and foreign patents, and is ranked 14th in the National SBIR program.
“The Department of Justice aggressively sought to punish and destroy a fine local research company,” said Tucson attorney Bruce R. Heurlin of Heurlin Sherlock. “Despite the importance of MER to our government and national defense, government lawyers spent several years in relentless pursuit of this baseless lawsuit. The vigorous defense required against the allegations caused a loss of business for MER and a reduction in workforce. For all the time it spent, the Justice Department never proved MER did a single thing wrong.
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