- The developer of a bridge blast and ballistic protection technology is suing a former employee for more than $40 million in damages for allegedly stealing its trade secrets in order to compete and, in the process, putting the United States' national security at risk.
- Hardwire LLC alleges that Irvin Ebaugh IV, the company's former vice president and program manager of its bridge security division, loaded more than 27,000 files onto a thumb drive before being dismissed and physically fighting his way out of Hardwire's offices when security tried to retrieve the drive. Subsequently, Hardwire claims Ebaugh started his own company, Infrastructure Armor LLC (IA), using the stolen data. In Ebaugh and IA's response filed with the U.S. District Court in Maryland (Northern Division), they denied the allegations.
- Hardwire claims that Ebaugh and IA have jeopardized national security, for instance, by using the stolen technology to win a bid for the security retrofit of the Kosciuszko Bridge in New York City but bungling the job because they lacked the expertise to install the armor correctly, leaving the bridge vulnerable to potential terrorist threats. The complaint also alleges that Ebaugh has shared highly sensitive information not only about Hardwire's technology but about other U.S. bridges and infrastructure with parties both domestic and foreign.
Hardwire also claims that Ebaugh posted a video to IA's website and, in that video, revealed that details about the Kosciuszko Bridge project thereby violating security protocol. The FBI, according to Hardwire, is investigating the theft as well.
Ebaugh is representing himself in the case, but, according to a motion that Hardwire submitted to the court, an LLC is not allowed to represent itself in civil cases. If an attorney doesn't file a response to Hardwire's claims on behalf of IA by March 19, IA could be in default.
Since Hardwire filed its lawsuit, Ebaugh himself and another worker have been photographed by the New York Post installing straps around a protective shield on the Kosciuszko Bridge's cables. The lawsuit claims that IA did not paint aluminum segments of the bridge's retrofit components before they came into contact with concrete, causing corrosion that is opening the seams of the protective shields.
The mistake, Hardwire said, could cause the armor to fall off.
Hardwire said it has won the Department of Homeland Security's SAFETY (Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies) Act Designation based on its solutions for protecting infrastructure against "fire, cutting, blast, fragmentation and ballistic threats" as a result of accidents or acts of terrorism.
Designation and Certification under the SAFETY Act offer legal protection for companies if their technology is ever put to the test by a terrorist attack. Designation status, for example, caps a company's insurance liability after an incident, and those with Certification status can assert the Government Contractor Defense against claims arising from acts of terrorism. By minimizing liability, DHS said that it is encouraging technological innovation.