$8.1 million jury verdict and over $1.5 million in attorney fees and costs
In October 2017, a Benton County jury awarded Julie Atwood damages in the amount of $8.1 million against Hanford contractor Mission Support Alliance (MSA) for whistleblower retaliation and discrimination. The jury also found that MSA Vice President and Kennewick Mayor Steve Young aided and abetted in MSA’s wrongful actions. The jury awarded $2.1 million in lost wages, and $6 million in emotional harm damages, which was based on nonmedical and medical testimony.
JULIE ATWOOD FILES RESPONSIVE BRIEF AT COURT OF APPEALS OUTLINING MSA’S MISCONDUCT; DOJ SUES MSA AND ARMIJO FOR DEFRAUDING THE GOVERNMENT
by Jack Sheridan on Friday, February 22nd, 2019
February 11, 2019
Today, Julie Atwood responded to MSA and Steve Young’s opening brief on appeal at Division 3 of the Washington State Court of Appeals. In her brief, Ms. Atwood outlined the mountain of facts supporting the jury’s $8.1 million verdict in October 2018. Ms. Atwood observed that MSA and Young “chose not to appeal any of those meaty issues [that one typically expects to see in a valid appeal of a jury’s verdict when error was committed during the trial], because [those issues] were correctly and thoughtfully decided by the jury and a hard-working, diligent, and intelligent trial judge [the Honorable Douglas Federspiel], whose well-reasoned written rulings make the case iron clad on appeal. What’s left for MSA and Young to appeal are mainly evidentiary objections.”
MSA and Young get to file a reply brief in 30 days and Ms. Atwood has asked that oral argument be expedited. The date of oral argument will be set later this month.
On February 8, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a federal lawsuit against MSA and former CEO Jorge Armijo alleging that MSA and Armijo knowingly made false statements to the Department of Energy about their profits and inflated their rates in violation of the False Claims Act. The lawsuit also alleges that Armijo and other MSA executives were paid more than $1 million by a subcontractor in violation of the Anti-Kickback Act. The U.S. Attorney stated, “Fraud, corruption, and self-dealing at Hanford will simply not be tolerated.”
Jack Sheridan said, “we understand that MSA was seeking to rebid the DOE contract at Hanford. The combination of Ms. Atwood’s jury verdict and the DOJ’s lawsuit may disqualify MSA as a competitive applicant on the rebid, which would demonstrate the importance of the judicial branch in regulating improper behavior by big businesses, and in ensuring that the People’s money is properly and honestly spent to benefit the People.”
Click here to see Julie Atwood’s responsive brief on appeal
Click here to see Masters Law Group brief on behalf of MSA and Young
Click here to see DOJ press release on MSA Armijo fraud case
Click here to see Tri-City Herald Article on federal lawsuit
MSA And Steve Young Get Extension On Filing Their Brief in Their Appeal of The Julie Atwood $8.1 Million Whistleblower Verdict And The $1.5 Million Attorney Fee Award—MSA Posted $10.5 Million Bond On Order of Court To Cover Interest And Attorney Fees On Appeal
by Jack Sheridan on Saturday, October 27th, 2018
October 9, 2018
Today the Court of Appeals granted MSA’s and Steve Young’s request for an extra sixty-days to file their opening brief in their appeal of Julie Atwood’s $8.1 million verdict against them for retaliation and discrimination. Their notices of appeal take a shotgun approach claiming that virtually every ruling by the trial court was in error. Jack Sheridan said, “a shotgun approach often means that the defendants have no valid appeal; otherwise, they would target one or two real errors. We see no errors in the record and we are looking forward to seeing their brief.”
Every day of delay comes with interest on the verdict and on the attorney fee judgment, which could easily bring the total judgments with interest (and attorney fees on appeal) to over $10 million dollars. To delay Ms. Atwood’s ability to collect the judgment amounts immediately, MSA had to post a bond, which was initially found to be deficient, and was increased to $10,437.862.17 by court order.
Jack said, “now their brief is due just before Christmas, so we will have to ask for an extension ourselves owing to the holidays and another trial I have in January. We are still hoping to have oral argument in the spring of 2019.”
Click here to see Atwood $8.1 million Judgment on jury verdict
Click here to see Atwood $1.5 million judgment on attorney fees and costs
Click here to see order granting plaintiff’s motion to have supersedeas bond ruled deficient
Click here to see MSA/Young first notice of appeal
Click here to see MSA/Young 2nd Notice of Appeal
Click here to see Order granting MSA/Young motion for 60-day extension
Judge Rejects MSA’s Motion for a New Trial and Awards Attorney Fees and Costs To Julie Atwood
January 10, 2018
Today Julie Atwood won another victory against MSA and Steve Young, when Superior Court Judge Doug Federspiel denied MSA’s motion for a new trial, and awarded attorney fees and costs to Ms. Atwood.
Mission Support Alliance is three-company venture owned by Leidos, Jacobs and Centerra Group. MSA had sought to overturn the $8.1 million jury verdict against MSA entered on October 10, 2017 for gender discrimination, wrongful discharge, and retaliation, which included a verdict against MSA Vice President (and Kennewick mayor) Steve Young for aiding and abetting the discrimination and retaliation.
In a detailed 56-page opinion, Judge Federspiel reviewed and rejected each argument raised by MSA against the verdict. He found that the verdict was supported by substantial evidence presented at trial and that it was not a result of passion or prejudice. He also awarded extra attorney fees and costs finding that “the [extra] attorneys’ fee incurred by her legal team [are being] awarded by this Court due to the risk of loss to the Sheridan firm had the jury returned a defense verdict, the complex nature of the factual issues, the skill of Atwood’s counsel, and the Court’s desire to encourage other attorneys to take cases such as this one. The relevant factors stated are supported by the record.”
Jack said, “Justice was done.” “We are thankful that our trial judge took the time to closely examine the law and the facts, and to bring this case to an end.” He noted that, “rather than treating Julie as required by law, MSA discriminated and retaliated against her, and rather than admitting to what they did, MSA paid Seattle attorneys to defend and deny their actions. “It took years to bring this case to trial. Justice may not always be swift, but justice happens all the same. Julie Atwood is truly vindicated, and MSA and Steve Young have truly been held accountable for their misconduct.”
MSA Seeks New Trial, But Provides No New Evidence In Atwood Case
by Jack Sheridan on Wednesday, December 27th, 2017
December 21, 2017
Today MSA’s Counsel, Denise Ashbaugh, argued for a new trial in an attempt to overturn the jury’s verdict of $8.1 million in the Atwood v. MSA and Steve Young retaliation, discrimination, and aiding and abetting case.
The Motion for a New Trial did not challenge the retaliation verdict against MSA for violating the Washington Law Against Discrimination, or the retaliation verdict against MSA for violating the common law claim of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, or the aiding and abetting verdict against MSA Vice President Steve Young for supporting MSA’s retaliation.
In the post-trial motion, MSA claimed that there was not enough evidence to support only the gender discrimination verdict and the aiding and abetting verdict against Steve Young for supporting gender discrimination. MSA also argued that the verdict was too large.
Jack Sheridan stated that the verdicts were carefully reached by twelve jurors who sat through the entire trial and heard all the evidence.
Jack’s brief to the Court outlined the strong evidence in support of the verdicts and the damage award. Jack states here, “some companies seriously hurt their workers without a thought about the damage they do, and then they whine when they are held accountable in front of a jury. Don’t shed a tear for MSA or Steve Young. MSA managers were bullies, they lied to the jury, they were in the wrong, they acted intentionally, and they hurt Julie badly.” Jack said, “The three companies that make up MSA, each worth billions, will have to pay the damages awarded by the jury to make Julie whole. The damages here are not designed to punish MSA—only to compensate Julie for what they did to her. To punish MSA, given its wealth, the jury would have had to award hundreds of millions of dollars. We didn’t ask the jury to do that.
Click here to see Atwood response to Motion for a new trial.
Click here to see recent Tri-Cities article on MSA’s argument.
Click here to see the jury’s verdict
Click here to see Trial Exhibit 16
Defendant MSA is Really Three Giant Companies: Leidos, Jacobs, and Centerra Group
by Jack Sheridan on Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017
According to their website, MSA represents the joining of three companies to perform work for the Department of Energy. Their website describes the companies as follows:
Mission Support Alliance is made up of Leidos, Jacobs and Centerra Group – as well as several partners with specialized Hanford expertise. MSA provides integrated infrastructure services for the Hanford cleanup mission, including, but not limited to: roads and transportation services; electrical and water services; facility maintenance; emergency response (fire and patrol) services; network and software engineering; cyber security and records management; as well as environmental compliance and clean energy solutions.
Mission Support Alliance, LLC
Julie Atwood Vindicated—Jury Awards $8.1 Million In Damages For MSA’s Retaliation And Discrimination–MSA VP Steve Young found to have Aided and Abetted
by Jack Sheridan on Wednesday, October 11th, 2017
October 10, 2017
Today a jury awarded Julie Atwood damages in the amount of $8.1 million against Hanford contractor Mission Support Alliance (MSA) for retaliation and discrimination. The jury also found that MSA Vice President and Kennewick Mayor Steve Young aided and abetted in MSA’s wrongful actions.
Ms. Atwood had a thirty-year career working as a manager for the Washington State Department of Ecology and later for private companies involved in waste management. She was an Ecology regulator at Hanford, and had experience working there going back to the days when Hanford was still producing plutonium. After Ecology, she worked for Hanford, and non-Hanford companies. Her employment track was a record of promotions and increased job responsibilities. She joined MSA in 2010 as a program manager and was evaluated as a top performer by her MSA managers and her customer, which is the Department of Energy (DOE).
For most of his career, Steve Young worked as a small business owner providing consulting services in a one-person office. But after he became Mayor of Kennewick, he was recruited by MSA CEO Frank Armijo to be a Vice President reporting directly to Armijo. For years, MSA billed the DOE for Young’s time based on his working a 40-hour week. At trial, Young admitted that he worked 16-20 hours a week every week on mayor-related business, and denied that he ever worked less than a 40-hour week for MSA. However, Young admitted he used his DOE office, his DOE computer, and his DOE email address for mayor business—all during the work day.
At trial, Young testified that being mayor advantaged MSA and DOE:
Julie was fired three days after she was interviewed by two internal investigators, who reported to MSA vice presidents that Julie had stated that Young had created a hostile work environment, that he treated her differently, and that he used work time to do mayor-related business. Julie was humiliated by having to bring her belongings from her office to her car during the work day using a wheelchair as a carrier under escort by MSA attorney Steve Cherry.
Jack said, “At trial we contended that Young was so valuable to MSA and to the DOE that when they perceived that Julie has focused a spotlight on him with her report to the investigators, MSA took immediate action to terminate her.”
There was also evidence that under Armijo, women were treated differently, and that men who engaged in improper acts were not fired. This raised the question: if MSA and Young thought she did something wrong, why was there no counseling, progressive discipline, or use of a performance improvement plan before her termination (there was evidence that Julie was investigated in 2013 without her knowledge). Why did MSA fire Julie, but not fire men who actually engaged in serious misconduct?
The jury found that Julie was fired in retaliation for her statements made to investigators and that her gender was a substantial factor in her termination. Jack said, “Julie was a model employee and her integrity, and the fact that she is a woman, got her fired. MSA hurt her and humiliated her, and the jury held MSA accountable. The system worked. Hopefully, MSA management will learn from this verdict.”
The jury awarded $2.1 million in lost wages, which is the amount of loss calculated by labor economist Paul Torelli, Ph.D., and $6 million in emotional harm damages, which was supported by the expert testimony of Laura Brown, Ph.D.
Click here to see Tri-City Herald article
Click here to see US News and World Report article
Click here to see the jury’s verdict
Click here to see Steve Young first day testimony
Click here to see Steve Young second day testimony
Click here to see $10,000,000.00 bond posted by MSA to cover costs, fees, and interest on appeal
Formula for Blacklisting at Hanford: have a high-level MSA executive say that Julie Atwood is being investigated for time card fraud; then MSA fires Julie Atwood; MSA leaves the impression Julie was fired for time card fraud, when she was actually fired in retaliation for blowing the whistle on Steve Young.
Click here to see DOE managers’ trial testimony
Page 6-7: Shoop recalls MSA COO Dave Ruscitto says someone being investigated for time care fraud, but not sure if it’s Atwood; pages 8: Shoop says Greg Jones is responsible for ensuring contractors comply with time requirements.
Former DOE Manager
Page 16: Manager testifies that Shoop told him heard from Dave Ruscitto that Julie Atwood being investigated; he tells Atwood
Page 30: Jones is good friends with Steve Young
Page 31: Young and Jones both on Kennewick City Council
Page 32: Jones says didn’t know Atwood being investigated for time card fraud in September 2013
Page 32: Jones says heard Atwood was fired for time card fraud
DID YOU KNOW THAT MSA BILLED U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY FOR LEGAL FEES AND COSTS THROUGHOUT THIS LITIGATION TOTALING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS?
A little-known fact is that DOE pays the litigation fees and costs of Hanford contractors who are sued for whistleblower retaliation and discrimination. Julie Atwood obtained some of the invoices sent to DOE by MSA’s Seattle attorneys through FOIA. There are more. How can DOE oversee MSA’s conduct if they are financing MSA’s legal defense?
Click here to see MSA’s law firm billing records to DOE
Click here to see more attorney fees billed to DOE by MSA.
040318 DOE FOIA Response cover letter
Judge Sanctions Hanford Government Contractor MSA For Hiding Documents In The Atwood v. MSA And Young Discrimination/Whistleblower Lawsuit, which Is Set For Trial On September 11, 2017
by Jack Sheridan on Friday, July 21st, 2017
June 20, 2017
Today Yakima Superior Court Judge Douglas Federspeil sanctioned Hanford Government Contractor MSA for hiding documents and the existence of a witness who should have been disclosed as a part of the discovery process during the lawsuit. MSA’s former general counsel had reported that former CEO Frank Armijo had treated her with disrespect and paid her and other women below what men were being paid. She also reported that she was retaliated against, demoted, and forced to resign after she complained. She ultimately filed a discrimination and retaliation complaint with the EEOC. Between March 2016 and February 2017, the plaintiff asked for discovery on three separate occasions, which should have caused MSA to produce the EEOC complaint in response, but MSA secretly withheld the EEOC complaint and all related documents while claiming that it had provided all information and documents responsive to the plaintiff’s requests. The Court found “MSA’s May 23, 2016 discovery answer was ‘misleading,’ as it led plaintiff to believe that all ‘gender discrimination, whistleblower, and/or retaliation complaints, from 2011 to the present’ would be identified by MSA and produced.” Order at ¶80.
During the litigation, plaintiff served the former general counsel with a subpoena, which MSA knew would result in production of the EEOC complaint. MSA’s counsel attempted to quash the subpoena arguing to the Court that the request was a “was nothing more than a fishing expedition, and raised claims that the content of [the former general counsel’s] document production and testimony would be subject to attorney client privilege.” Order at ¶30. The Court denied the motion, and only then did MSA produce the EEOC complaint to the plaintiff. Judge Federspeil found that MSA waited to produce the EEOC complaint and the other documents until after learning that the Court would not quash the subpoena. Order at 33.
MSA violated a separate order issued on February 3, 2017, compelling MSA to produce documents “without further delay,” which should have also resulted in production of the EEOC complaint and related documents before the motion to quash was heard. Order at ¶23. The Court found that the EEOC complaint and related documents should have been produced in May 2016 and “the lack of disclosure in May 2016 with respect to both the external and internal complaints [by the general counsel and others] reveals either an incompetent investigation (i.e., a lack of a reasonable inquiry), or an intentional withholding of evidence. . . There is simply no reasonable excuse for these omissions, which necessarily call into question the claim that MSA consistently conducted a “reasonable, good faith search for documents.” Order at ¶22. The Court found, “there can be no question that defendant has stymied plaintiff’s ability to investigate the facts and thereby prejudiced her ability to prepare for trial.” Order at ¶90.
The imposition of sanctions for discovery abuses is mandatory. Order at ¶73. As a penalty, the Court ordered that plaintiff can reopen discovery, and the Court ordered MSA to pay plaintiff’s reasonable attorney’s fees and all costs related to the additional discovery caused by MSA’s misconduct, and ordered MSA to certify that it is not withholding any other responsive documents. Order at ¶¶96-97. A jury trial is set for September 11, 2017. Jack Sheridan, Ms. Atwood’s attorney, stated, “We appreciate Judge Federspeil’s attention to this matter, and we look forward to getting the discovery we need so we can get this case to trial in September.”
Trial Postponed; Hanford Executive Julie Atwood Files Updated Sanctions Motion Against MSA
by Jack Sheridan on Thursday, February 23rd, 2017
May 3, 2017
The trial in Ms. Atwood’s discrimination/retaliation case against Hanford Contractor MSA, which was set to begin on May 1, 2017, was postponed owing to unresolved motions, including a sanctions motion filed in February by Ms. Atwood. Since the February filing, plaintiff alleges that MSA continued to engage in additional pre-trial misconduct in violation of a court order, including dumping 6,500 documents on plaintiff, which should have been produced in 2016, two weeks before trial. The latest production includes more documents from MSA’s former general counsel (see below).
The current motion seeks the harshest sanction: entering a default judgment for the plaintiff. Jack Sheridan, Ms. Atwood’s attorney, stated, “MSA has unlimited resources and unlimited time. They have no incentive to comply with court orders. They win by dragging this case out until Ms. Atwood runs out of resources. The only way to deter MSA and their attorneys from ongoing misconduct is to enter judgment for the plaintiff on liability and proceed to trial on damages. Otherwise this case, which was filed in 2015, may drag on for another year or more.”
Click here to see Atwood memo re: sanctions
Click here to see Sheridan 2nd Supp Declaration
Click here to see Rose Declaration Part 1
Click here to see Rose Declaration Part 2
Click here to see Morland Declaration
Click here to see Atwood Declaration
Click here to see Atwood proposed findings of fact
On February 3, 2017, pursuant to plaintiff’s motion to compel production of MSA’s former general counsel’s EEOC complaint and other such documents, Benton County Judge Carrie Runge ordered MSA to produce the documents “without further delay.” The day before, MSA had filed an emergency motion requesting that the subpoena be stricken. In a sworn statement in support of the motion, MSA’s attorney stated, “I also noted that any claims by [MSA’s former general counsel] against MSA, who voluntarily left MSA over two years after Ms. Atwood’s employment ended, was nothing more than a fishing expedition designed to harass MSA.”
MSA Attorney Denise Ashbaugh’s Declaration re: subpoena of MSA’s former general counsel
MSA’s Motion to Quash Subpoena of MSA’s former general counsel
MSA’s motion was heard by Judge Bruce Spanner on February 7, 2017. The “fishing expedition” argument was repeated, but Judge Spanner denied MSA’s motion nevertheless.
The next day, MSA produced sixteen pages of documents pursuant to Judge Runge’s order, which included the EEOC complaint filed by MSA’s former general counsel.
Jack said, “In my view, MSA sought to mislead two judges and the plaintiff by making a bad faith argument claiming that plaintiff was on a “fishing expedition” for irrelevant documents, all the while withholding the very relevant documents in violation of Judge Runge’s order, which required that they be produced ‘without further delay.’”
Jack said, “MSA did not produce the documents related to MSA’s former general counsel before the hearing with Judge Spanner. Instead they orchestrated this so I had to make my argument to Judge Spanner against quashing the subpoena without being able to show Judge Spanner the EEOC complaint and other documents, which would have clearly shown that this was not a fishing expedition. This misleading behavior by MSA violates the Civil rules and justifies sanctions.”
The deposition of MSA’s former general counsel went forward on February 10, 2017. At the deposition, Jack learned that:
Much of this is summarized in her response to the EEOC, which is Exhibit 6 to the Sheridan Dec.
Click here to see ATWOOD Amended Motion for Contempt
Click here to see Sheridan first declaration in support of Motion for Contempt
Click here to see Sheridan second declaration in support of motion
The plaintiff seeks additional discovery, attorney fees and costs, and the imposition of a penalty. Judge Runge will hear the plaintiff’s motion for contempt and sanction at 8:30 on April 14, 2017.
The defendant had sought to have Judge Runge reconsider her order compelling MSA to produce documents. That motion was denied.
Click here to see order denying MSA’s motion for reconsideration.
Former Hanford Senior Manager Sues Hanford Contractor And Kennewick Mayor For Retaliation And Wrongful Discharge
by Jack Sheridan on Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
August 21, 2015
Today, Julie Atwood, a former senior project manager with Hanford contractor Mission Support Alliance, LLC, also known as MSA, filed a lawsuit against MSA in Benton County Superior Court alleging retaliation, discrimination, and wrongful termination. Also named in the lawsuit are Steve Young, MSA’s Vice President of Portfolio Management, and part-time Mayor of Kennewick, and MSA’s former COO David Ruscitto.
In her complaint, Ms. Atwood alleges that after having worked for approximately 30 years in the field of regulatory compliance, waste management and environmental affairs in Washington State, in 2010, MSA hired Ms. Atwood as Project Manager of Environmental Regulatory and Waste Management, a position she held until she was terminated in September 2013. Prior to her termination, she alleges she had excellent performance evaluations.
The complaint alleges that in September 2013, Mr. Young mistakenly believed that Ms. Atwood was responsible for an anonymous report to MSA alleging that he was creating a hostile work environment. Human Resources Principal Christine DeVere began an investigation into the report as part of her duties as the MSA’s EEO officer. She met with Young, who said he would resign and also indicated that Atwood was the person behind the report.
The complaint also alleges that after the anonymous report, and contrary to policy and practice, Ruscitto told DOE that Atwood was being investigated for time card fraud. This happened before any investigation was commenced on any issue. Atwood alleges that Ruscitto’s statements to DOE damaged her reputation.
The complaint further alleges that within hours of DeVere talking with Young, MSA Human Resources Vice-President Todd Beyers pulled DeVere off the investigation despite her warnings that failure to investigate could result in liability to the company. Two days later, DeVere was put back on a new investigation, allegedly conceived by Beyers and Chris Jensen, Director of Independent Oversight and Employee Concerns, into whether Ms. Atwood had engaged in time card fraud. The anonymous complaint would also be investigated, but Ms. DeVere would not be the lead investigator. Instead, the investigation would be led by Employee Concerns Specialist Wendy Robbins.
The complaint alleges that Robbins and DeVere interviewed Atwood, and after reviewing time records, concluded that no time fraud had occurred. Atwood also told the investigators that Young did create a hostile work environment against women, and treated women differently. She also reported that Young frequently conducted City of Kennewick business on MSA time, and charged his time to the government contract.
The complaint alleges that Robbins and DeVere reported their findings and Atwood’s allegations to Beyers and Jensen, who ignored the findings saying that they were going to terminate Atwood.
The complaint alleges that Atwood was brought into a room and forced to sign a resignation letter on the threat that she would lose her benefits unless she signed. She was then forced to pick up her possessions from her office and was escorted out of the building by MSA attorney Steve Cherry. Because there was no handcart, Atwood had to load her possessions onto a wheelchair, and push her belongings while others looked on, which was humiliating.
Jack Sheridan, the attorney representing Ms. Atwood, said, “The facts alleged in Ms. Atwood’s complaint are some of the most egregious examples of retaliation I’ve ever seen. The humiliating walk she was forced to take pushing her belongings in a wheelchair for all to see on the day she was fired is reminiscent of Dr. Tamosaitis’ removal from his position at Hanford. I guess Hanford contractors haven’t learned their lesson yet.” Hanford whistleblower Dr. Walter Tamosaitis recently settled a whistle retaliation case against another Hanford contractor for $4.1 million.
Ms. Atwood is seeking damages for lost wages and other unspecified damages.
Click here to see copy of Atwood complaint
First page of complaint with received stamp and case number
Click here to see Tri-City Herald article
Jury verdict for plaintiffs of over $4.7 million
Total recovery over
Benton County Case No. 99-2-01250-7. Eleven plaintiff whistleblower case finally brought to trial after extensive delays. Jack called more than 50 witnesses, most of whom where company employees who were hostile to the plaintiffs. Some of the plaintiffs are pipe fitters who had been laid off for refusing to install an underrated valve in a system that would ultimately carry nuclear waste. Other plaintiffs were pipe fitters who were laid off after speaking out in support of the original plaintiffs. The jury awarded over $4.7 million in damages. See jury verdict form. Plaintiffs were awarded an additional $1.5 million in attorney fees. See the attorney fee judgment and the order denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case. Also see the Seattle Post Intelligencer coverage.
Recent $1 Million Emotional Harm Whistleblower Jury Verdict
A Thurston County jury awarded Steve Chaussee, a carpenter foreperson working for the ferries, $1,000,000 for emotional harm damages he suffered over a period of about eight years after he was perceived by his management to have blown the whistle on another ferry worker who was leaving work early to coach baseball and charging for a full day.
After the verdict, Jack said,“Steve is very pleased. The State needed to be held accountable. Once they got it in their heads that Steve was the whistleblower they demoted him two levels—from foreperson to journey level—which was unprecedented”, and “This verdict should send a message to state bureaucrats that they will be held accountable for whistleblower retaliation. This verdict makes it cost effective to protect whistleblowers and to fix the problems they report.”
Click here to see Chaussee – Jury Verdict form
Jury verdict of over $187,000.00
King County Case No. 92-2-05963-1. Disability discrimination case brought under state law. Case was won on Jack’s cross-examination of adverse witnesses.
Whistleblower Win: 4.1 million dollar settlement before trial.
Federal District Court, Eastern District, No. CV-11-5157-LRS. Dr. Tamosaitis agreed to a settlement of his federal retaliation lawsuit against Hanford contractor URS for $4.1 million dollars. The settlement came almost one year before the case was set for a jury trial in federal district court in Richland, WA.
After the settlement, Jack said “We are very pleased that Walter can get on with his life after five years of litigation, and that he has been vindicated. This settlement sends a message to whistleblowers everywhere that integrity and truth are worth fighting for, and that you can win if you don’t give up.”
Tom Carpenter, Director of Hanford Challenge, a public interest group that helps whistleblowers from Hanford, commented, “This is great news for Walt and great news for the public. Walt is a hero who staked his career to raise nuclear safety issues that could have resulted in a catastrophe down the road. His issues were investigated and validated, and those safety issues are being scrutinized and corrected. This settlement brings justice to Walt, and is a necessary step in the quest to address a broken safety culture at Hanford that has historically punished employees for bringing forward concerns.”
Click here to see URS signed settlement agreement
Click here to see Tamosaitis signature on settlement agreement
Click her to see 2015 amended complaint–not filed owing to settlment
Click here to see LA Times article
Click here to see NY Times article
Click here to see Tri-City Herald article
Click here to see and hear NPR story
Click here to see 2013 Newsweek article on Tamosaitis and Hanford
Jury verdict of $1.2 million and attorney fees of $571,000.
In June 2018, in Trussler v. Washington, a King County jury awarded Plaintiff Stacy Trussler, a former Washington State Department Of Transportation Director, $1.2 million in damages and recommended that she be reinstated to a comparable position at WSDOT with protections against further retaliation. Of that verdict, $700,000 was for non-medical emotional harm caused by the State’s wrongful acts.