Body-armor manufacturer settles with U.S. Justice Department

Published 10 October 2008

The U.S. Justice Department charged that a body armor manufacturer knowingly used Zylon fiber in body army it sold to the federal government and local law enforcement; Zylon fiber degrades quickly and is not suitable for ballistic use

This story reminds us of Arthur Miller’s 1947 play “All My Sons”: Armor Holdings Products LLC has agreed to pay the US $30 million to resolve allegations that it violated the U.S. False Claims Act by knowingly manufacturing and selling defective Zylon bullet-proof vests. The U.S. Justice Department alleged that Armor Holdings manufactured and sold the Zylon bullet-proof vests despite possessing information showing that the Zylon materials degraded quickly over time and were not suitable for ballistic use. The vests were purchased by the federal government and by various law enforcement agencies.

The Zylon vests from Armor Holdings contained either woven Zylon or a Zylon-laminate insert called Z Shield. The Zylon fiber used in both types of vests was manufactured by Toyobo, and in July 2007 the United States sued Toyobo for its manufacture and sale of Zylon to U.S.-based body armor manufacturers. The Z Shield insert containing Zylon was manufactured by Honeywell, and in June this year the United States sued Honeywell for its manufacture and sale of Z Shield to Armor Holdings.

The Engineer reports that The $30 million settlement was part of a larger investigation of the body armor industry’s use of Zylon. The United States previously settled with three other participants in the Zylon body armor industry for more than $16 million.