Sioux Manufacturing of Fort Totten, a manufacturer in North Dakota has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit, originally for $159 million in damages, brought when the company shortchanged the armor in about 2.2 million military helmets, including the helmets worn by the first troops sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. Two former plant employees claimed the Kevlar woven at the manufacturer failed to meet the government’s critical minimum standard of thirty-five by thirty-five threads per square inch. Many of the records shows the Kevlar woven at the plant was thirty-four by thirty-four threads or lower. They were also adding extra resin to the Kevlar to bring it to the specified weight, resulting in reduced elasticity and increasing brittleness in the helmet.
Before the settlement was handed down, the company was given a new contract of up to $74 million to include more armor in the helmets and replace the helmets made from 1980 to 2007. The United States Attorney for North Dakota considered this a fair compromise since two hundred sample helmets passed ballistic tests and no deaths due to the helmet have been reported by the military. Lawyers for the two employee whistleblowers in the case, however, say this was not a fair decision since there was a taped discussion with a quality insurance officer who admitted the danger of the lower quality helmet. The insurance officer admitted if an investigation ever went underway investigating the quality of helmets, the company would be in serious trouble.