Brundridge et. al v. Fluor Federal Services, et. al


Supreme Court

Argued by Sheridan

Jury verdict affirmed

Brundridge v. Fluor Fed. Services, Inc., 164 Wn.2d 432, 191 P.3d 879 (2008).  Eleven wrongfully discharged pipe fitters won jury verdicts against Fluor Federal Services for wrongful discharge by Fluor for either blowing the whistle on unsafe practices at the Hanford Nuclear Site or for supporting those who did.  Fluor appealed to the Division III Court of Appeals, and in November 2007, before oral argument was held at the Court of Appeals, the case was certified directly to the Supreme Court, which affirmed the jury’s verdict, and made important holdings on a plaintiff’s right to enter evidence of other crimes and wrongs committed by the employer against other employees.

Watch Jack in action arguing this case to the Washington State Supreme Court.  His side of the argument begins about halfway into the video at 18:20.  CLICK BELOW TO SEE SUPREME COURT ORAL ARGUMENT:



Cao v. City of Seattle

Case settled on appeal before argument owing to strength of plaintiff’s opening brief

No. 588567-I. Race discrimination case involving Chinese American working at the Seattle Public Library.  Case lost at trial owing to error in jury selection, which improperly excluded a Chinese American jury service in violation of constitutional rights.  On appeal, case settled for $200,000.00.  See copy of appellate brief filed with the Washington State Court of Appeals.

Capers v. Bon Marche
Court of Appeals
Argued by Sheridan
Case settled after  plaintiff won appeal


91 Wn.App. 138, 955 P.2d 822 (Div. 1 1998). Race discrimination case lost at trial owing to error in jury instructions and improper closing argument by defense counsel. Case settled after plaintiff’s successful appeal to Washington State Court of Appeals.
To review court’s decision link to: FindLaw

City of Seattle v. McConahy



Court of Appeals Argued by Sheridan

Pro bono case

86 Wn.App. 557, 937 P.2d 1133 (Div. 1 1997), review denied, 133 Wn.2d 1018, 948 P.2d 388 (1997). Challenge to City of Seattle anti-sitting ordinance. A good fight, but the appellate courts were unwilling to enforce fundamental protections for homeless Seattle residents.
To review court’s decision link to: FindLaw
For related cases and commentary search google: City Seattle McConahy sitting


Johnson v. Chevron

January 2012, Seattle Washington

Bruce Johnson settled his discrimination case against Chevron after winning an important appeal that established how disability discrimination cases will be handled by the Courts in Washington for years to come.  Jack Sheridan said, “We are very pleased that Bruce and his family can put this behind them and get on with their lives.  They are heroes for standing up against discrimination.”  The terms of the settlement are confidential.  

In late 2011, the Washington State Supreme Court declined to review the December 2010 decision by the Court of Appeals granting a new trial to former Chevron truck driver Bruce Johnson.  Chevron had fought hard to get Supreme Court review having enlisted the aid of the Washington Defense Trial Lawyers Association and the Association of Washington Business to submit “friend of the court” briefs arguing for a return to the old days when employers could more easily ignore requests for accommodation by their employees by claiming they were not “medically necessary,” which was a confusing and undefined term.  The Supreme Court’s decision to deny review is a rejection of that standard and means that more Washington employees with disabilities will obtain the accommodations guaranteed by the Washington Law Against Discrimination. 

Johnson v. Chevron, 159 Wn. App. 18, 244 P.3d 438 (2010).  In December 2010, in a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeals ordered the trial court to grant a new trial in the disability discrimination case brought by Bruce Johnson against Chevron in 2008.  King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector, the trial judge, had dismissed before trial Mr. Johnson’s main claim that Chevron failed to accommodate his back injury holding that Mr. Johnson could not show that his proposed accommodation was medically necessary.  The Court of Appeals found the trial court’s ruling to be reversible error. Also, at Chevron’s request, the trial judge erroneously instructed the jury that Mr. Johnson must prove that he was treated unfairly as compared with other workers.  The Court held that “This is not the law and the error was not harmless.”   

Jack stated, “This is a great victory for victims of disability discrimination because it clarifies two important legal issues.  First, medical necessity is not an element that needs to be proved in a failure to accommodate case.”  As the Court of Appeals said, the issue ‘is whether Johnson’s impairment had a substantially limiting effect upon his ability to perform the job such that the accommodation was reasonably necessary, or doing the job without accommodation was likely to aggravate the impairment such that it became substantially limiting.’  Second, it’s been the law in Washington since 1994 that plaintiffs can prove discrimination by showing that discrimination was a substantial factor in the adverse action. But here, the judge told the jury that Mr. Johnson additionally had to show that he was treated worse than his co-workers (called comparators), which has never been the law, and since we had not put on any comparator evidence, the outcome was predictable.”  

Those decisions at the trial level required Mr. Johnson to file an appeal and cost him more than a year waiting for justice.  Court of Appeals opinion author Judge Anne Ellington (concurrences by Judges Ann Shindler and Mary Kay Becker), did a great job in clearly stating the law and in correcting the errors below.  Mr. Johnson is ready to get this case resolved fairly in front of a new jury.  

The complaint alleges that Chevron knew Bruce Johnson had chronic back pain caused by his employment with Chevron, and did nothing to accommodate him except to send him home or place him on light duty. Chevron made no effort to work with Mr. Johnson or his physicians to find an accommodation so that he could continue on the job as a tanker truck driver. Once Chevron disallowed the use of Mr. Johnson’s requested accommodation, an ergonomic fuel hose drainer, it made no further effort to find an alternative accommodation.

A new trial is set for January 2012.

Click Here for the Court of Appeals Decision.

Martini v. Boeing



Supreme Court

Argued by Sheridan

Jury verdict affirmed

137 Wash. 2d 358; 971 P.2d 45 (1999). Groundbreaking disability discrimination case holding that unlike federal law, Washington law permits a victim of discrimination to leave a discriminatory workplace and recover damages for all lost wages (some federal decisions require that victim be constructively terminated or lose all rights to lost wages).
To review court’s decision link to: FindLaw


Martini v. Boeing



Court of Appeals

Argued by Sheridan

Jury verdict affirmed

88 Wash. App. 442, 945 P.2d 248 (Div. I, 1997). Disability discrimination case. Court affirmed jury verdict for plaintiff.


Pham and Lara v. City of Seattle



Supreme Court

Argued by Sheridan

Jury verdict affirmed

159 Wn.2d 527, 151 P.3d 976 (2007). Court affirmed the Court of Appeals holding remanding case to determine if plaintiff’s counsel deserved multiplier of attorney fee award because he took a high risk case. The trial court later awarded a fee multiplier to Sheridan as a reward for taking such a high risk case.
To review court’s decision link to: FindLaw


Pham v. City of Seattle



Court of Appeals

Argued by Sheridan

Jury verdict affirmed

124 Wn.App. 716, 103 P.3d 827 (2004). The court affirmed the jury verdict in all respects and also held the trial court erred in denying plaintiffs a multiplier on the attorney fee award, since the case was high risk.
To review court’s decision link to: FindLaw


Tamosaitis v. URS Energy and Construction


November 7, 2014 Seattle, WA

Today the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of Hanford whistleblower Dr. Walter Tamosaitis’ federal whistleblower lawsuit against URS Energy and Construction for its complicity in removing him from his job at the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant in 2010. Bechtel National is the primary DOE contractor at Hanford and URS Energy and Construction is its main subcontractor. Dr. Tamosaitis was employed by URS. He alleges that in the summer of 2010, he opposed Bechtel’s claims that mixing issues regarding the highly toxic and radioactive sludge stored in the more than 100 Hanford tanks had been resolved. Within a few days after he voiced his opposition, he was removed from his management position at Hanford, escorted off the property, and assigned to a basement office performing no meaningful work for fifteen months. He was only transferred to an aboveground office after testifying before Congress, but still given no meaningful work.In reversing the trial court’s dismissal of his claim, the 9th Circuit found, “there is plenty of evidence that Bechtel encouraged URS E&C to remove Tamosaitis from the WTP site because of his whistleblowing, that URS E&C knew that Tamosaitis’s whistleblowing motivated Bechtel, and that URS E&C carried out the removal.”

In remanding the case back to the trial court, the 9th Circuit held, that a reasonable jury could find, “that URS E&C ratified Bechtel’s retaliation by transferring Tamosaitis, despite knowledge of Bechtel’s retaliatory motive. Equally supported is the reasonable inference that URS E&C could have refused to carry out Tamosaitis’s removal but failed to do so.”

Jack Sheridan, Tamosaitis’ attorney, stated, “This is a groundbreaking decision that will empower other whistleblowers working at nuclear facilities, because it recognizes that a DOE subcontractor may be held liable for doing the bidding of the DOE prime contractor when the prime contractor wants to retaliate against a whistleblower who works for the sub.” Sheridan also noted, “This is also the first appellate case recognizing that these whistleblowers get a jury trial when they go into federal court.” Sheridan says that he expects that the case will go to the jury sometime in 2015.

Click here to see Tamosaitis Amended opinion v1

Click here to see 3/17/15 9th Circuit Mandate

Richland, Washington

December 15, 2011

In December, Dr. Tamosaitis was called before Congress to testify about whistleblower retaliation at Hanford and then invited to speak about his experiences on the Rachel Maddow Show.

Click here to see excerpts from his testimony shown on the Rachel Maddow Show

On November 9, 2011,  Dr. Tamosaitis filed a federal lawsuit against DOE seeking an injunction to prevent DOE from automatically siding with contractors who retaliate against whistleblowers. Sheridan said, “The contractors claim attorney client privilege with DOE in whistleblower litigation.  How can DOE provide oversight if they are helping the contractors defend?” Also named is URS, his employer. Dr. Tamosaitis is asking the federal judge to order URS to return him to a position of leadership and responsibility at the Vit Plant.   Sheridan stated, “The reason that DOE is in this lawsuit is because we allege its managers supported or even initiated the removal of Dr. Tamosaitis from the Waste Treatment Plant (“WTP” or or Vit Plant) and participated in the decision to prevent his return. Plaintiff seeks money damages from URS.

A separate lawsuit is proceeding forward in state court in Benton County against Bechtel for intentionally interfering with his relationship with URS by participating in the decision to terminate him from the WTP.  That case is set for trial in May 2012.Dr. Tamosaitis was removed from his position at Hanford, escorted off the Hanford property, and is currently assigned to a basement office performing no meaningful work. His complaint alleges that just before his removal, he called into question whether Bechtel met a contract milestone that resulted in a multi-million dollar bonus. Emails recently obtained from URS in pretrial discovery show that on July 1, 2010, a day after Bechel claimed the work was done supporting the bonus, DOE Manager Dale Knutson, was in discussions with Bechtel Manager Frank Russo in which Russo criticized Dr. Tamosaitis’ concerns over the WTP. Russo wrote, “Walt is killing us.” See email exchanges below. In response to an email written by Dr. Tamosaitis discussing his concerns about WTP, Knutson wrote to Russo,

“If this shows up in the press we will be sticking to our previous comment . . . Deliberate haste will be our approach.” Bechtel and URS were hired by the DOE to design and build the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant, which will be an industrial complex of facilities for separating and vitrifying (immobilizing in glass) millions of gallons of high-level nuclear tank waste stored in 177 large underground tanks on the Hanford site.DOE has stated that it intends to begin building the plant before the design is completed to meet time goals. Mr. Tamosaitis is investigating whether the “deliberate haste” is related to this DOE approach.

Vitrification technology involves blending the high-level nuclear tank waste with glass-forming materials and heating it to over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The mixture is then poured into stainless steel canisters to cool and solidify. In this glass form, the high-level nuclear tank waste is currently considered stable and impervious to the environment, and its radioactivity will dissipate over hundreds or thousands of years.

Dr. Tamosaitis was removed from Hanford on July 1, 2010.  In a July 28, 2010 email exchange between WTP Manager Russo, and Bechtel National President David Walker (Russo’s boss), and Bechtel Parent Company President J. Scott Ogilvie, they reveal close communications and cooperation with DOE managers on what they call the “WTP Tamosaitis event.”  In one email, Walker confirms that he spoke with DOE manager Ines Triay about the “Tamosaitis event.”  According to Walker, Triay said, “we will manage through the technical issues and DNFSB investigation part satisfactorily although at cost of significant disruption/time etc.” She went on to say that they “Need to be sure ‘Hill’ gets covered and protect the $50 million.” See July 28, 2010 email exchange below.  In his deposition, Russo confirms the names of the DOE officials involved, that the Hill is Capitol Hill, but he attributes the “protect the $50 million” comment to his boss, David Walker.  See Russo deposition excerpts below.

Russo confirmed that the concern about the money was related to Dr. Tamosaitis (see Russo page 324-325 below):

Q. (By Mr. Sheridan) All right. But — but it’s true, is it not, that you had some concerns that the $50 million — that Dr. Tamosaitis’ conduct may in some way jeopardize the 50 million?

A. He had some concerns.

Q. Your boss?

A. (Nods head.) Yes.

Although BNI and URS claim that Dr. Tamosaitis was being reassigned to a position off the WTP, plaintiff has obtained an announcement dated July 1, 2010, showing that hours before he was removed from the WTP, management drafted and circulated an announcement showing that “Dr. Walt Tamosaitis will manage this group to be staffed by members of the existing R&T organization in alignment with scope completion.” See below, July 1, 2010 email on reassignment.

On June 13, 2011,  the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (“DNFSB”) released a report analyzing the failures in the safety culture at Hanford, which is operated by the Department of Energy (“DOE”).  The report documented the removal of Dr. Tamosaitis from the Hanford site by Bechtel and URS after he raised technical and safety concerns and called upon DOE Secretary Chu to “conduct a non-adversarial review of Dr. Tamosaitis’ removal and his current treatment by both DOE and contractor management and how that is affecting the safety culture at WTP.”

The report made two major findings:

  • There is a “chilled atmosphere adverse to safety” at Hanford in which employees are afraid that they will be punished if they raise safety concerns; and
  • DOE and its contractors at Hanford (here Bechtel and URS)  “suppress technical dissent.”

Click here to view Federal Complaint
Click here to view Appendix to Federal Complaint
Click here to view excerpts from Russo Deposition
Click here to view July 28, 2010 email exchange: “DOE can’t be seen as involved.”
Click here to view July 1, 2010 email attaching announce showing Dr. Tamosaitis will be assigned to new WTP project.
Click here to view copy of DNFSB Report on DOE

Click here to view copy of “Walt is killing us” email string with DOE comment
Click here to view copy of email string between Russo and Knutson stating, “I directed URS to get Walt out of here 2 weeks ago. . . .”
Click here to see DOE Knutson Declaration

Click here to view a copy of the complaint filed in Benton County Superior Court.
Click here to view a copy of the broadened DOL complaint which is being investigated by OSHA.
See media coverage:

Listen to Northwest Public Radio Report Here

See KEPR TV Report Here

Click below to see a copy of the 50 Item Issue List that Dr. Tamosaitis brought to the July 1, 2010 meeting with Bechtel and URS managers (discussed at pages 19-20 of civil complaint above) just one day after Bechtel claimed that it met its June 30, 2010 contract requirements to earn a $6 million fee.  On July 2, 2010, his Hanford badge was pulled, his blackberry was confiscated, and Dr. Tamosaitis was escorted off the Hanford premises.  Now he shares a basement office with two copying machines and has been assigned no meaningful work.

Dr. Tamosaitis’ July 1, 2010 50 item issue list

Click here to see Bechtel email string from April 2010 acknowledging that if they fail to close the M3 issue by June 30, 2010, they will lose 80% of Bechtel’s fee.

Click here to see DOE contract provision warning of need to close M3 issue or risk forfeiture of 80% of fee due on June 30, 2010.

Tom Carpenter and the Hanford Challenge are working with Jack to provide support and to make sure Walt’s story is told in the halls of Congress and in the media.

Trinh and Bailey v. City of Seattle



Court of AppealsArgued by Sheridan

Jury verdict affirmed

2008 Wash. App. LEXIS 1391 (1998). The Court affirmed Phi Trinh’s verdict of $947,290.00 ($772,000 as damages for emotional harm). The jury awarded Mattie Bailey $503,195.00 ($462,000 as damages for emotional harm), but the Court sent her case back to the trial court to reevaluate the damages having found that one of her claims was outside the statute of limitations.  See home page for subsequent +$800,000 settlement of Ms. Bailey’s case.The Court of Appeals opinion depicts ten years of success and job satisfaction by Mr. Trinh and Ms. Bailey under Superintendents Hardy and Bradley followed by ten years of discrimination and harassment under Superintendents Zarker and Carrasco.


The City of Seattle has settled a race discrimination lawsuit brought by former Seattle City Light Manager Mattie Bailey for the sum of $812,250.00.  Today Bailey filed documents to dismiss her lawsuit in light of the settlement.  The settlement comes more than two years after a King County jury awarded Ms. Bailey the sum of $503,195.00 ($462,000 as damages for emotional harm) for race discrimination and harassment by other City Light managers.  The jury award came in February 2007 after a six-week jury trial. 

At trial, Sheridan presented evidence that Bailey, who is African American, worked for City Light from 1981 until her retirement in 2008.  For the first decade of her employment, Ms. Bailey proved herself as a top-level manager working as a direct report to two superintendents and heading the Communications Division.  When Gary Zarker became superintendent, he reorganized Bailey’s division. Zarker gradually took away her responsibilities and gave them to Caucasian new hires.  In 1999, Zarker hired Robert Royer to serve as the Director of Communications. Bailey then reported to Royer who, as a member of the executive team, reported directly to Zarker and later to Jorge Carrasco, who replaced Zarker in 2004.

Sheridan also presented evidence that under Royer, Bailey was removed from most of her managerial duties and given clerical work, such as processing invoices. At a staff meeting attended by Bailey, Royer expressed admiration for Thomas Jefferson’s “fatherly relationship” to his slaves. In a private meeting with Bailey, Royer compared her with the African American movie character “Super Fly” because she was wearing sunglasses.

The jury found that City Light had created a hostile work environment in its daily treatment of Ms. Bailey and that the City had discriminated against Ms. Bailey by failing to give her equitable pay. 

The City appealed the jury verdict and in 2008, the Division One Court of Appeals affirmed the jury’s verdict on the harassment claim, but overturned the pay claim following the U.S. Supreme Court holding in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc., which held that under federal law, the statute of limitations begins to run when the first paycheck is issued rather than when the plaintiff learns that she is being underpaid. 

In a press release, Jack Sheridan stated, “We disagreed with the Court of Appeals’ ruling because Ledbetter was a federal case and Ms. Bailey’s case was brought under state law, which provides greater civil rights protections than federal law, but even after Congress and President Obama overturned the Ledbetter decision through legislation, we could not convince the Court of Appeals to change its decision.  We had to accept that we were going to retry the case on damages.” 

As to the settlement, Sheridan said, “Had we gone to a second trial, Ms. Bailey was prepared to prove her damages from the first trial and to show that after the February 2007 jury verdict, the harassment continued and that she was treated more like a office assistant than a manager, which caused her to take early retirement.”  

Sheridan indicated that “Mattie was a great manager and the City wasted her as a resource because it allowed the good old boys to run the utility instead of awarding jobs based on merit.”

See Seattle Times Article