First Choice responds to DoJ Zylon complaint

August 18, 2009 - United States Of America

The United States has filed a False Claims Act lawsuit against First Choice Armor & Equipment Inc. and its founder, Edward Dovner, for submitting false claims for bullet-proof vests purchased by the United States for federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, the Justice Department announced Aug. 3.

First Choice was founded with a view towards ensuring the safety and well-being of law enforcement and military personnel. All First Choice body armor has been certified by the National Institute of Justice (the research arm of the United States Department of Justice). At no time has any First Choice body armor vest failed to protect law enforcement officers, including those models that contained the component Zylon(R) (made by Toyobo) and that were discontinued by First Choice in 2005 and withdrawn from the market.

The claims asserted by the Department of Justice are completely without merit. Additionally, not a single First Choice vest has ever failed to protect the individual wearing it. We stand behind the safety of every body armor product we manufacture and intend to further demonstrate this and defend ourselves in Court.

Discontinued Zylon(R) Vests
During the late 1990s and up through 2005, many domestic manufacturers of body armor used Zylon(R) in certain models of their vests. Because of its light weight and flexibility, many of our customers wanted the ability to choose a Zylon(R)-based vest similar to those manufactured by some of our competitors. First Choice manufactured a few models that contained Zylon(R) and, like other domestic body armor manufacturers, relied on representations and scientific information provided to First Choice by Toyobo Co. Ltd. and Toyobo America, Inc. (the manufacturers of Zylon(R)).

First Choice, as required by law, submitted all of the designs, materials and specifications for all First Choice vests to the National Institute of Justice for testing and approval. The National Institute of Justice reviewed all of this information, conducted sophisticated ballistic testing on all First Choice vests and then specifically authorized all First Choice vests as safe and effective for sale and use by law enforcement agencies.

Unfortunately, much of the information provided by Toyobo turned out to be false. In fact, the Department of Justice has sued the Toyobo entities in part for supplying false information to, and concealing material information from, U.S. based armor manufacturers, including First Choice.