A federal whistleblower lawsuit against Raytheon Co. reportedly secured a $1 million win in Colorado federal court.
Plaintiff Bruce C. served as an engineer for Raytheon, a massive defense contracting company, but was allegedly reassigned in retaliation after pointing out testing problems for a U.S. military contract.
The contract reportedly aimed to develop satellite navigation technology for the Air Force. Bruce was allegedly told to change the data on tests so that it would look like Raytheon was meeting the U.S. military’s contract requirements. In November 2015, he reportedly brought the issue to the attention of project leaders but they reportedly “did not make any attempt” to rectify the alleged fraud.
Instead, they allegedly pulled him from his position as a manager on the Air Force project in May 2016. He was reportedly told that he made mistakes with the technology testing procedures but he argues that he was made a “scapegoat for management’s illegal actions.”
Bruce claims that his “dead-end reassignment” was direct retaliation for him calling attention to the company’s allegedly “unethical” and “fraudulent” testing reports. The day after his reassignment, Bruce reportedly filed an internal ethics complaint but later left the company in July 2016. He sued the company for whistleblower retaliation in November 2017.
Raytheon asked for a judgment as a matter of law on the second day of trial, which the court has not ruled on. The company claimed that Bruce hadn’t shown that his reassignment was retaliation for whistleblowing.
Although the judgment is still pending on Raytheon’s bid, a Colorado federal jury recently awarded a large $1 million award to Bruce for the alleged retaliation he experienced. He will reportedly receive $43,000 in back pay as well as $1 million in noneconomic damages for Raytheon’s alleged violation of the Defense Contractor Whistleblower Act.
The Federal Whistleblower Lawsuit is Case No. 1:17-cv-02635 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
Federal Whistleblower Claims
The federal False Claims Act dates back to the Civil War when suppliers were defrauding the Union Army. Under the law, any person or business that intentionally submitted a false claim to the government would be forced to pay penalties and any damages sustained by the government.
A unique feature of the False Claims Act is its qui tam provisions. Qui tam is the abbreviated form of a Latin legal phrase meaning “he who brings a case on behalf of our lord the King, as well as for himself.” In the False Claims Act, the qui tam provisions allow relators (also called whistleblowers) to take legal action on behalf of the federal government if they have been witness to fraudulent behavior.
Federal whistleblower lawsuits are commonly filed in the health care and military fields, as businesses in these sectors are more likely to make claims with federal spending programs.
Under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers may be able to recover a share of any damages won in a successful qui tam lawsuit. A relators share may vary anywhere between 15 and 25 percent of the final recovery. With settlements sometimes reaching millions of dollars, this means significant compensation for whistleblowers.
In general, whistleblower and qui tam lawsuits are filed individually by each plaintiff and are not class actions. Whistleblowers can only join this investigation if they are reporting fraud against the government, meaning that the government must be the victim and that the alleged fraud should be a substantial loss of money.
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