The Justice Department, dealing a blow to a $4-billion lawsuit against Morton Thiokol, said it will not join the suit by a former employee claiming that the company defrauded the government in producing the booster rockets blamed for the Challenger accident.
The suit was brought by Roger Boisjoly, who was an engineer for the company at the time of the shuttle disaster and who claims the company wrongfully went ahead with the fatal launch.
"After a review and investigation of Boisjoly's allegations, the department has decided that there is not sufficient basis for it to enter the case at this time. Boisjoly is free to pursue the litigation without the government's participation," a statement said.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said the department will continue to monitor the case, but declined further comment as it remains pending in U.S. District Court.
The decision, a blow to Boisjoly's case, indicated the Justice Department was not prepared to move on an FBI criminal investigation of the company, launched secretly in January when it was told by company employees of "substantial allegations of fraud" concerning the manufacture of the booster rockets blamed for the Challenger accident.