|Whistleblower Disclosures Force Companies to Compensate Slain Policemanís Widow|
San Diego, September 7, 2006. A jury returned a verdict of over 2.5 million dollars against two companies, including Toyobo Co. Ltd., a major Japanese manufacturing corporation, based on their sale and marketing of defective “zylon” bullet proof vests to police officers throughout the United States. Police officer Tony Zeppetella was killed after a bullet passed through his Zylon vest and inflicted a fatal chest wound. For a number of years, Toyobo, along with it’s American partner, the now bankrupt Second Chance Body Armor, hid the defects in the vest from their police customers. A jury found the companies liable for failing to warn policemen about the defects in the vests, and awarded Officer Zeppetella’s widow 2.5. Million dollars in damages.
Zeppetella’s case was based on the evidence and testimony obtained by
a whistleblower inside Second Chance. Dr. Aaron Westrick, who was
fired from Second Chance after he gave deposition testimony in the
Zeppetella case, provided unrebutted testimony that Second Chance and
Toyobo managers had detailed knowledge of the vests’ problems. Dr.
Westrick also disclosed confidential corporate documents which verified
the concern that continued sale of the vests would result in the death
of a police officer. Second Chance had ordered the shredding of this
document. Dr. Westrick refused to follow that instruction and provided
a copy of the memo to the U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Westrick is
currently cooperating with a major federal civil and criminal
investigation into misconduct related to the manufacture, sale and
marketing of the defective vests.