October 26, 2020
Today, Julie Atwood filed a petition asking the Washington State Supreme Court to review and overturn the decision of two judges at the Court of Appeals in Spokane–Judges Laurel Siddoway and Kevin Korsmo–who overturned the 2017 unanimous decision of the jury in Julie Atwood’s case. The third judge, Robert Lawrence-Berrey, dissented from the majority’s opinion.
Judges Siddoway and Korsmo wrote a 61-page opinion second guessing the jury, criticizing Julie Atwood as though she were a problem employee (which was MSA’s failed argument at trial), criticizing the trial judge for his thoughtful, often conservative, rulings on the admission of evidence, and criticizing Julie’s attorney for presenting admissible evidence. Jack said, “This is a shocking ruling that shows the majority may have had its own agenda.” See footnote 2 of petition below. In the month-long trial, the jurors reviewed over 100 exhibits and heard the testimony of 41 witnesses. Jack said, “Judges Siddoway’s and Korsmo’s version of the facts are unrecognizable to me and certainly would be unrecognizable to the jury. Reading their opinion was like reading MSA’s appellate brief.” Jack said, “Judges Siddoway and Korsmo did what is almost never done–they viewed the evidence on appeal in the light most favorable to MSA–the loser at trial–and not in the light most favorable to Julie Atwood, as is usually done on appeal. If allowed to stand, this approach to reviewing jury decisions threatens our democracy and essentially eviscerates our constitutional right to a jury.” The following is an excerpt from the petition:
The role of the jury is to be held ‘inviolate’ under Washington’s constitution.” State v.Montgomery, 163 Wn.2d 577, 590, 183 P.3d 267 (2008) (citing WASH. CONST. art. I § 21). “To the jury is consigned under the constitution ‘the ultimate power to weigh the evidence and determine the facts.’” Id.; RAP 13.4(b)(3).
Judges Siddoway’s and Korsmo’s decision delays justice for Julie for another year, but she will get justice once our Supreme Court clarifies the law to ensure that jury verdicts are respected and protected.
ALSO SEE TRIALS AND SETTLEMENT SECTION FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS CASE
2020 MSA WHISTLEBLOWER Julie Atwood Is Waiting For Justice To Be Done
January 28, 2020
The wheels of justice turn slowly. In August 2015, former MSA Manager Julie Atwood filed a lawsuit against Mission Support Alliance (“MSA”) and MSA Vice President Steve Young for damages flowing from her wrongful termination for whistleblowing. The trial in this matter began on September 11, 2017, and on October 10, 2017, a Benton County jury awarded Ms. Atwood $8.1 million in damages caused by MSA’s wrongful termination of Ms. Atwood only days after she blew the whistle on MSA’s misconduct. On liability, the jury unanimously found that:
- MSA engaged in retaliation against Ms. Atwood;
- MSA Vice President Steve Young aided and abetted in MSA’s retaliation against Ms. Atwood;
- MSA wrongfully discharged Ms. Atwood for whistleblowing;
- MSA engaged in gender discrimination against Ms. Atwood;
- MSA Vice President Steve Young aided and abetted in MSA’s gender discrimination.
See website “Trials” section under Atwood for details. In addition, she was awarded $1.5 million in attorney fees and legal costs, but she has not been paid. In February 2018, MSA appealed the jury’s verdict to the Court of Appeals in Spokane, and simultaneously attacked Trial Judge Federspeil’s rulings in the media.
Mission Support Alliance is actually a partnership between billion dollar companies Leidos and Centerra Group. Together, they have responsibility for the Mission Support Contract with the United States Department of Energy at the Hanford Site.
The briefing to the Court of Appeals has been in for some time. The oral argument on the case occurred on January 28, 2020. By most accounts, it did not go well for MSA. Click below to hear Court of Appeals oral argument
Now Ms. Atwood waits for the three-judge panel to issue their ruling either affirming the jury’s verdict or finding fault with the verdict. Either way, there is a likelihood that the losing party will petition for review by the State Supreme Court. We expect a ruling by the Court Appeals in April or May 2020. But if a petition is filed with the Supreme Court, it may another year or two before the case gets resolved. Jack Sheridan commented, “persons not involved in the litigation process find it hard to believe that justice can take so long, but we are happy to wait as long as it takes so that the Court of Appeals gets it right, and if need be, so the Supreme Court can say the final words: ‘jury verdict affirmed.’”