August 6, 2009

First Choice Armor Responds to Department of Justice Zylon Complaint

SPINDALE, N.C., Aug. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- 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models that contained the component Zylon(R) (made by Toyobo) and that were discontinued by First Choice in 2005 and withdrawn from the market.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 yesterday 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.

First Choice discontinued use and sale of Zylon(R)-containing products in 2005.


First Choice Armor & Equipment, Inc. located in Spindale, North Carolina is a leading global provider of personal products for law enforcement, Homeland Security and military personnel. It manufactures and markets numerous products, including body armor, certified for safety by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research arm of the U.S. department of Justice. As an ISO 9001:2008-certified company, First Choice has pioneered among other things the development of vehicle armor, innovative ballistic/stab-shank resistant vests and protective equipment that are state-of-the-art, lightweight and comfortable. The company employs over 150 employees in the Rutherford County, North Carolina area (a certified HUB zone). For more information, please visit

DOJ's lawsuit is premised on First Choice's use of a component fiber (Zylon(R)) employed by most major body armor manufacturers at various times from the late 1990s to 2005. Prior to the sale of these body armor products, First Choice Zylon vests were properly NIJ certified by an independent laboratory pursuant to the rules NIJ itself established. First Choice manufactured and sold a few models of body armor containing the Zylon(R) fiber from 2000 through August 2005, none of which has ever failed.

With respect to the DOJ's meritless financial claims against First Choice's founders Mr. and Mrs. Dovner, all transfer of funds by the company shareholder were legitimate and used for tax and other purposes (the company is an S corporation for tax purposes) and were in complete compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). First Choice remains positioned to be a leader in the protective products space. First Choice will defend itself vigorously against all DOJ claims.

SOURCE First Choice Armor