(RICHMOND, Va.) -- A federal judge in Virginia will allow a whistleblower to move ahead with a lawsuit that accuses the largest U.S. Army supplier of foreign language interpreters of deploying unqualified translators to Afghanistan.
Judge Leonie M. Brinkema ruled Friday in favor of Paul Funk, a former employee who once oversaw the screening of linguists for the company, Mission Essential Personnel (MEP). Funk alleged in his lawsuit that the company allowed unqualified translators to be sent to the battlefield to work alongside American troops. He alleged that some translators cheated on oral exams, while others fell short of proficiency requirements but were sent to Afghanistan anyway.
In holding that the case could move forward, the judge said it raised issues that are "so critical, when you think about how our soldiers rely upon the interpreters in Afghanistan."
"Let the light be shone upon the situation, and at the end of the day…it will be resolved," she said.
MEP spokesman Sean Rushton said the company is "confident in the judicial system and looks forward to presenting our position more fully, which we believe will lead to a ruling in our favor."
"Our view is that the plaintiff's lawsuit lacks key information, which deprives it of a legal basis to proceed further," he said.
In a court hearing last week, lawyers for MEP argued the case should be dismissed. They said that Funk's allegations were unsubstantiated and false. "Mr. Funk would like you to skip across the wave tops and look at the broad sea," attorney Anthony H. Anikeeff told the judge, according to an official transcript of Friday's court proceedings.
"The point is that, while he alleges this grand scheme," said Anikeeff, "I call it like a cotton candy fraud case, where there's lots of ethereal wrapping around a core, but what's missing is just dig down a little bit…there isn't a single allegation of any kind of fraud."
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