ANCHORAGE, Ala., March 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A federal jury has awarded Anchorage resident, Paul Blakeslee, $3.5 million in a whistleblower retaliation case. Blakeslee had sued his former employer, Shaw Environment & Infrastructure, Inc., for wrongful termination after the company initiated a "reduction in force" one day after receiving a whistleblower letter from Blakeslee. Blakeslee had reported a potentially significant fraud on the United States military.
Shaw was a government contractor providing support services (facilities maintenance) on Fort Richardson and Fort Wainright through contracts in excess of $100-million. In 2008, Shaw's Alaska project manager, Richard Lantz, had created a private leasing company and was leasing nearly $2-million worth of equipment to the government through the Shaw contracts, in many cases without obtaining competitive bids. Blakeslee wrote a letter reporting this conflict to Shaw's CEO, James Bernhard at the company's headquarters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The day after Shaw received this letter, it commenced a termination proceeding and fired Blakeslee.
The jury found Shaw violated the whistleblower protections of the Federal False Claims Act, a statute encouraging the reporting of fraud and abuse and protecting whistleblowers who identify possible government fraud. The jury also found Blakeslee, who was then 71 years old, was the subject of age discrimination and the subject of retaliation.
"This was a classic David Vs. Goliath battle between a hard-working man who chose to do the right thing against one of the largest companies in America. Instead of thanking Blakeslee for blowing the whistle, Shaw fired him then tried to crush Paul in litigation," explains Howard Trickey, partner in the law firm representing Blakeslee.
"A jury of his peers stood up to corporate wrongdoing and sent a loud and clear message that whistleblowers that come forward to protect American taxpayers deserve protection, not retaliation," said another of Blakeslee's attorneys, Matt Singer of Jermain Dunnagan & Owens, P.C., located in Anchorage Alaska.
Chicago Bridge & Iron, a Dutch multinational conglomerate with offices outside of Houston, Texas, recently acquired Shaw.
For more information on the case, visit www.jdolaw.com
CONTACT: Ava VanNahmen, 727-365-9383
SOURCE Jermain Dunnagan & Owens, P.C.