Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Clifton Lab Sued over Bad Plane Brakes

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Clifton Lab Sued over Bad Plane Brakes

Article excerpt

CLIFTON -- An electronics testing lab is for a second time the subject of a lawsuit that alleges the company produced false test reports for products that it said were properly working.

New Jersey Micro-Electronic Testing Inc. of Clifton is being sued by a distributor in Dover that sold thousands of airplane brake parts judged by the lab to be functional but that later proved to be defective.

Electrospec, the parts distributor, claims in its suit that the testing lab improperly tested the brake parts or never performed the tests, and that it falsified the test reports. A similar claim was made in 2005 by a former lab employee who said his superiors directed him to fabricate test reports, but the company said those allegations were not proved.

In the new case, none of the flawed brake parts were installed in airplanes, but the fallout for Electrospec was massive, said Darren Summer, the company's vice president. After an investigation by federal inspectors, he said, the company lost millions of dollars in business and was forced to shrink its workforce of 30 employees to eight.

Summer said he hopes the lawsuit, filed in March 2014 in Passaic County Superior Court, will vindicate his business and shine a light on the testing lab's practices.

"The damage is done on my end," Summer said. "Others that have used testing from NJMET, they need to know this. These parts could be in aircraft, in equipment that could fail."

The testing lab's attorney, Jerry Gallagher, said the company denied the new allegations and was "completely confident that it properly tested and thoroughly tested these parts."

Electrospec bought the brake parts from a Chinese supplier in 2008 and sent them for testing to ensure that they were authentic, new and functional, Summer said. The lab said 13,000 of the 20,000 parts passed its tests, and Electrospec sold them to Hydro-Aire, a California-based company that installs aircraft brake systems.

But Hydro-Aire's parent company performed tests of its own, revealing that some of the parts were not working and that they likely had been used and refurbished, said Richard Vrhovc, Electrospec's attorney.

The Federal Aviation Administration sent an alert to the airline manufacturing industry about the faulty parts in 2012 that said they were "not properly tested and could be counterfeit. …

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