United States ex rel. Eric Uhlig, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Fluor Corp., et al., Defendants-Appellees.
September 8, 2016
from the United States District Court for the Central
District of Illinois. No. 4:11-cv-04009 - Michael M. Mihm,
Flaum, Rovner, and Sykes, Circuit Judges.
Uhlig brought False Claims Act and retaliation claims against
his former employer, Fluor Corporation, and related entities
(collectively, "Fluor"). Fluor contracted with the
United States Army to provide, among other services,
electrical engineering work in Afghanistan.
says Fluor violated the False Claims Act when it knowingly
breached the terms of its Army contract by using unlicensed
electricians as journeymen and billing the government for the
services. Uhlig also contends Fluor wrongfully terminated
Uhlig as a whistleblower in violation of 31 U.S.C. §
district court granted summary judgment for Fluor. We affirm.
United States Army uses umbrella agreements known as
"indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity"
("IDIQ") contracts with private companies to
provide support for military personnel. IDIQ contracts
provide the general terms under which a contractor is to work
but do not delineate specific conditions. The Army then uses
"Task Orders" to assign jobs to a contractor.
2007, the Army and Fluor entered into an IDIQ contract known
as Logistics Civil Augmentation Program IV
("LOGCAPIV"). LOGCAPIV provided a framework for
construction, maintenance, and other services in support of
military personnel around the world.
IV originally contained no specific provisions governing
personnel qualifications. In August 2008, the Army issued
LOGCAP IV Contract Modification 4, which provided:
The Contractor shall ensure that Contractor personnel ...
possess a license, certification, training, and/or education
commensurate with the level of duties to which they are
assigned. ... Contractor will comply with the terms of this
provision if Contractor develops and reasonably implements a
Trades Certification and Validation Plan, as approved by the
Government, utilizing the master, journeyman, or apprentice
submitted a Trades Certification and Validation Plan as
required by Modification 4. The Plan divided craft workers
into four categories using "a combination of licenses
held, education, training, and experience."
Plan defined a "helper" as an apprentice who works
under constant supervision and a "journeyman" as a
skilled craftsperson who may work with minimal supervision
and possesses "verifiable minimum experience and/or
holds a universally accepted certification, license and/or
degree." The Plan also stated that electricians
"[m]ay be required to hold a license."
January 2009, the government approved the Plan, making it the
contractual standard by which Fluor employees'
qualifications were to be established.
2009, Fluor was awarded Task Order 5, which authorized Fluor
to perform a variety of services, including electrical work,
at military bases in northern Afghanistan. Before Fluor, a
different contractor, KBR, Inc., had been performing this
work. To avoid major disruptions in service, the government
requested that Fluor attempt to hire KBR employees who were
already in Afghanistan. Fluor hired American and British
former KBR employees, as well as employees from Bosnia,
Macedonia, India, and Pakistan. The employees who were not
citizens of the United States or Great Britain were referred
to as "other-country nationals."
was one of the KBR employees that Fluor hired. Fluor gave
Uhlig a one-year foreperson ...