Washington, DC, October 20 – Stunning information revealed during depositions in a four year long Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) battle led the Department of Justice (DOJ) to largely abandon defending the Department of Defense (DOD) against a lawsuit seeking information about Sikorsky Aircraft Corporat ion’s (Sikorsky) small business subcontracts. A key assertion by Sikorsky that releasing materials it filed with DOD would reveal trade secrets is unsupportable, DOJ apparently determined. Accordingly, DOJ notified the Court and co-defendant Sikorsky on October 12 that DOD intends to release most of the requested information in two weeks. The December 11 trial has been postponed.
The American Small Business League (ASBL) initially sought Sikorsky’s small business subcontracting plan in an August 2013 Freedom of Information Act filing. When DOD refused, Sonoma, CA based ASBL filed suit in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco in 2014. In an early hearing, Judge William Alsup on November 6, 2014 said: “The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act is so the public can see how our government works. Congress passed this law to make small businesses have access to some of these projects, and here is the United States covering it up.”
“We whole-heartedly agreed with Judge Alsup then and now welcome the unraveling of that cover-up,” said Lloyd Chapman, ASBL’s president. “We believe the covered-up information will help expose the fact that the Pentagon and its largest prime contractors have used the Comprehensive Subcontract Plan Test Program to cheat small business out of hundreds of billions in subcontracts since the program began in 1989.”
“Some of the information we seek had actually been posted on government web sites and issued in press releases by Sikorsky,” explained Jonathan W. Cuneo, partner of Washington, DC-based Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP, representing ASBL. “The defendants hid behind a spurious trade secrets claim for four years. Ironically, this case involves information with no national security sensitivity about a single source, non-competitive Defense Department contract.”
Among facts undermining Sikorsky’s trade secrets defense is an expert report by former FAA official David Downey who said information about Sikorsky’s subcontractors is “widely” available in the industry.
With its principal office in Washington, DC, Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP represents clients in a range of civil justice and legislative matters including civil and human rights, antitrust, consumer protection, product liability and securities and intellectual property.