A Minnesota whistleblower who warned his employer, M.K. Battery, and the U.S. Defense Department of a battery change in Humvee vehicles that could have deadly consequences for U.S. combat soldiers has won nearly $1 million in a $5.5-million settlement.
David McIntosh, 49, worked as a regional sales representative for M.K. Battery when he repeatedly tried and failed to get his superiors to inform the U.S. Army about a battery change that drastically reduced the life expectancy of the power sources controlling gun turrets on the Humvee.
With his concerns falling on deaf ears, Mr. McIntosh contacted the Defense Department directly in April 2007 and informed officials there of the potentially deadly switch.
The sealed acid batteries Mr. McIntosh was concerned about provide backup power to turn the gun turrets in the event a Humvee’s engine is dead – a very likely combat scenario. Mr. McIntosh knew that a secret manufacturing change designed to reduce the company’s costs meant that the backup batteries had, in many cases, half the duration the Army expected and thought it was paying for.
“Worst-case scenario, if the troops in a Humvee were in a firefight … they may have only half the power the Army was promised, which could mean life or death,” Mr. McIntosh claimed.
Mr. McIntosh said that he was fired weeks later for insubordination. According to the StarTribune, the whistleblower’s life went into tailspin. He lost his six-figure job and struggled for six years to find “gainful, full-time employment.” His marriage collapsed and he now works as a laborer and truck driver.
“It was never about the money,” McIntosh told the press after his court victory. “It was about doing the right thing and protecting the people who protect us.”
Mr. McIntosh’s $990,000 reward was paid to him as a percent of the settlement under the federal False Claims Act. Another part of the lawsuit involving his wrongful termination is expected to go to trial next spring. Under U.S. law, companies who contract with U.S. government agencies are prohibited from retaliating against employees who call out fraud, waste, abuse, and other wrongdoing classified as “protected activity.”
Mr. McIntosh’s attorney told the StarTribune that he and his client are “not interested in settling that case. He wants to tell his story publicly at trial.”
“From Day One it is a classic example of corporate greed,” Mr. McIntosh’s lawyer told the StarTribune. “Profit was more important than protecting human lives, in this case, the men and women serving our country, which is particularly repugnant.”