Honeywell settles 14-year legal battle with government over bulletproof vests

Honeywell International Inc. will pay $3.35 million to the US government to settle a 14-year legal battle over material in bulletproof vests sold by the company.

Between 2000 and 2005, Honeywell sold its Z Shield material to Armor Holdings, a bulletproof vest manufacturer whose products were purchased by federal agencies under a General Services Administration contract.

Armor Holdings vests were also provided to state, local and tribal law enforcement through partial funding provided by the Justice Department’s Bulletproof Vest Partnership program.

The US government alleged in its lawsuit that Honeywell was aware that Z Shield material, also known as Zylon, degraded in hot and humid conditions, rendering it ineffective. The $3.35 million settlement reached Tuesday contains no determination of liability on Honeywell’s part.

The settlement shows the government‘s aim to hold companies accountable, said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Brian Boynton in a Justice Department statement.

In a statement to the Washington Times, Honeywell said that it was “pleased” with the agreement, adding, “Honeywell denies all liability as part of the settlement, maintains its position that it did not make any false claims, and views the modest settlement amount as a reasonable way to settle this longstanding litigation.”

While Z Shield has not been sold for over 17 years, the company maintains the material was safe to use, credited with saving the lives of five police officers shot in the line of duty.

“In both the investigation and the litigation, the US government did not identify a single instance where a vest containing Z Shield failed to perform as intended in the field,” the company’s statement concluded.

The Honeywell settlement is the last in a series of suits filed by the US government resulting from a Justice Department investigation of the body armor industry’s use of Zylon.

Previous settlements with 17 other entities and individuals netted the government over $133 million.

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