Whistleblowers Win Case Against Fluor Federal Services Company 

(Washington, DC) – Earlier today, at around 10:20 a.m. PDT, the trial in the case of 11 Hanford pipefitter whistleblowers, represented by Seattle attorney Jack Sheridan and the Government Accountability Project (GAP), came to a close. All eleven pipefitters were victorious, as Fluor Federal Services, a Department of Energy Contractor at the Hanford site, was found liable for damages totaling $4,760,000. The trial began in mid-July.

The jury was unanimous in its decision, and all 11 pipefitters received front-pay and back-pay. All but one of the pipefitters also received compensation for emotional distress (the sole pipefitter who did not was not seeking it).

The pipefitters and their awards are as follows:

Scott Brundbridge – $354,700
Chuck Cable – $465,000
Dave Fabion – $419,700
Donald Hodgin – $415,450
Jesse Jaynes – $463,200
Clyde Killen – $553,000
Pete Nicacio – $89,700
Shane O’Leary – $490,100
Ray Richardson – $553,700
James Stull – $498,550
Randi Walli – $456,900

With a total amount of $4,760,000 awarded, the average settlement per pipefitter is $432,727.

Because of Fluor Federal Services’ loss, that company risks being ordered to reimburse all of its legal costs and remedies to the government under existing rules. It also risks a civil penalty by the DOE Price Anderson Act enforcement office, which recently assessed a $54,000 fine against an Ohio contractor for whistleblower reprisal. A similar fine in the pipefitter case could approach $600,000.

The case revolves around the initial firing of seven pipefitters, let go after refusing to install an unsafe valve in the tank farm system that holds approximately 53 million gallons of high-level nuclear and toxic waste underground. If the valve failed, it would have risked serious injury or death for those in the vicinity, potentially spread contamination, and jeopardized the structural integrity of the storage tanks. More background regarding the pipefitter case can be found on GAP’s website.