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Michael D. Kohn

Michael D. Kohn is a nationally recognized litigator focusing on whistleblower protection law specializing in Qui Tam/False Claims Act, Dodd-Frank Act SEC whistleblower claims, IRS whistleblower claims and whistleblower retaliation litigation.

He has successfully represented whistleblowers in cases against some of the nation’s largest corporations and law firms, including Georgia Power Company, Brown & Root and Ashland Oil Company. He has also won numerous whistleblower cases against federal, state and local governments. His knowledge of issues involving the life sciences, nuclear energy and technology are integral to the firm’s advocacy for those who report environmental violations in the workplace.

Mr. Kohn is often sought out by the national media to comment on whistleblower actions and is co-author of two landmark books on whistleblower protection.

He is co-founder and serves as President of the National Whistleblower Center, and Trustee of the National Whistleblowers Legal Defense & Education Fund. He formerly served as Legal Ethics Director at the Government Accountability Project (1985-88) specializing in litigating corporate whistleblower cases.

Michael D. Kohn

Successful Legal Advocacy

  • Bloom v. Department of the Army, 101 M.S.P.R. 79 (2006).  National precedent that adverse findings against whistleblower by Office of Special Counsel not admissible in Merit Systems Protection Board proceedings without consent of whistleblower.
  • Bertacchi v. City of Columbus, 2003-WPC-11 (2005).
  • Bonds v. Leavitt, 629 F.3d 369 (4th Cir. 2011).
  • In re Bradley Birkenfeld (2013).  Co-counsel, represented most important tax whistleblower in U.S. history. Obtained largest reward ever granted an individual whistleblower under U.S. law ($104 million dollar award for Mr. Birkenfeld).
  • Charvat v. Eastern Ohio Regional Wastewater Authority, 96-ERA-7 (1998).
  • English v. General Electric Co., 110 S. Ct. 2270, 2277 (1990).  Represented Amicus Curiae in U.S. Supreme Court case rejecting the federal preemption doctrine in state public policy discharge cases.
  • In the Matter of Georgia Power Company, 37 NRC 96 (1993).  Established standard for NRC licensing proceedings related to the character and competence of nuclear managers.
  • Greenhouse v. Army Corps of Engineers.  Successful representation of the Army Corps top contract executive who protested illegal no-bid multi-billion dollar contracts awarded to Halliburton/KBR at the outset of the Iraq War.
  • Haddle v. Garrison, 525 U.S. 121 (1998).  Co-counsel for public interest Amicus Curiae in case establishing employee-witness protection under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2).
  • Hasan v. Texas Utilities, 86-ERA-24 (1986).  Successfully disqualified a leading national law firm for having engaged in unethical conduct involving the licensing of a nuclear power plant.
  • Hobby v. Georgia Power Co., Case No. 90-ERA-30 (U.S. Dept. of Labor), No. 01-10916 (11th Cir. 2002).  Lead counsel in judicial and administrative litigation over a ten-year period ultimately establishing numerous precedents in Labor Department corporate whistleblower cases.  Having obtained over $5,000,000 in total damages, this case continues to represent the largest financial victory by any nuclear/environmental whistleblower.
  • Ikossi v. Department of the Navy, 516 F.3d 1037 (D.C. Cir. 2008).  Lead counsel in case establishing precedent under the “mixed case” doctrine, carving out an exception for federal employees to file claims in federal court.
  • Jayko v. Ohio, 99-CAA-05 (2000).  Lead counsel in a case concerning the cover-up by the then director of the Ohio EPA.  The then Director of the Ohio EPA interfered with the investigation of a cancer-cluster appearing at a public school build on top of a Army disposal site and fired Mr. Jayko for attempting to do his job.  The subsequent nomination of the Ohio EPA director to a top post at the EPA was withdrawn after his involvement in this case and other conduct was brought to light.
  • Jenkins v. EPA, 1992-Clean Air Act (CAA) Case No. 3 (U.S. Secretary of Labor).  Established precedent that a retaliatory reassignment constituted adverse action.  Prevailed in merits hearing.
  • Macktal v. Brown & Root, 923 F.2d 1150 (5th Cir. 1991).  Established national precedent prohibiting restrictions in private contracts that prohibited an employee’s right to report safety violations to the U.S. government; established precedent that the Secretary of Labor could not lawfully alter material terms of a settlement agreement entered into between two private parties.
  • Marcus v. EPA, 92-Toxic Substances Control Act Case No. 5 (U.S. Secretary of Labor) . Obtained first-ever ruling establishing coverage of federal EPA employees under the employee protection provisions of the Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.  Obtained reinstatement, back pay and compensatory damage awards for wrongfully fired Senior Science Advisor. Lead trial and appellate counsel.
  • Mosbaugh v. Georgia Power Co., 91-ERA-1 (ALJ Oct. 30, 1992).  Lead counsel.  Established key precedent governing when a whistleblower can engage in one-party taping to document misconduct. The plant assistant general manager was ordered reinstated with full back pay after being fired for taping conversations of corporate executives conspiring to violate safety rules in the aftermath of one of the worst nuclear plant accidents to have occurred in the United States.
  • Opthof v. Ashland Chemical Co., 94-CAA-7 (ALJ May 8, 1995).  Co-counsel.  Prevailed at merits hearing on behalf of wrongfully discharged chemical engineer.
  • Thomas v. Arizona Public Service Co., 89-ERA-19 (DOL proceedings) (SOL proceedings).  Co-counsel at hearing and on appeal establishing liability under whistleblower law for denial of training opportunities.
  • Linda Tripp v. Department of Defense104 F. Supp.2d 30 (D.D.C. 2000), 99-2554 (2001)  173 F.Supp. 2d 58 (D.D.C. 2001), 193 F.Supp.2d 229 (D.D.C. 2002), 01-157 (D.D.C 2002) 219 F.Supp.2d 85 (D.D.C. 2002),  99-2554 (D.D.C. 2002)  257 F.Supp.2d 37 (D.D.C. 2003), 194 F.R.D. 344 (D.D.C. 2000) and  200 F.R.D. 140 (D.D.C. 2001).  Co-counsel for precedent setting litigation on behalf of nationally recognized whistleblower. Case resulted in one of the largest Privacy Act settlements ever awarded by the U.S. government.
  • U.S. ex rel. Barko v. Halliburton, 952 F. Supp 2d 108 (D.D.C. July 8, 2013).  Co-counsel for Plaintiff-Relator in False Claims Act case alleging Iraq War contracting fraud.  Successfully prevailed on motions and obtained order denying motions to dismiss and finding jurisdiction over subcontractor based in Jordan. Filed a petition for rehearing en banc (July 28th, 2014)
  • U.S. ex rel. Gibbs v. MTI, (D.D.C.). False Claims Act qui tam whistleblower case brought by a former manager at a defense contracting firm alleging that the firm double-billed the government for labor and parts. The case settled shortly after the relator died. Successfully concluded the case and obtained close to a million dollars on behalf of the U.S. taxpayers, which was split between the U.S. and the whistleblower’s estate.
  • U.S. ex rel. Harris v. J.P. Morgan Chase, (D. Mass.).  Co-counsel under the False Claims Act for wrongful foreclosures on residential mortgages, resulting in U.S. intervention and obtaining $6.19 million settlement of False Claims Act case.
  • U.S. ex rel. Irwin v. Significant Education, (D. Ariz Feb. 10, 2009), (D. Ariz. June 7, 2011).  Co-counsel under the False Claims Act for illegal recruiting of students at private, for-profit university.  Obtained $5.2million settlement on behalf of relator and United States, and a 28% “relator’s share.
  • U.S. ex rel. Nouri v. World-Wide Language Resources, Inc. (E.D. Pa.).  Co-counsel under False Claims Act for illegal charges incurred by United States in War in Afghanistan. United States intervened and the relator obtained reward.
  • U.S. ex rel. Richardson v. Bristol Myers Squibb.  Co-counsel for employee relator in one of the largest pharmaceutical False Claims Act cases successfully resolved in the United States, resulting in civil payments to government of over $500 million dollars.
  • U.S. ex rel. Westrick v. Second Chance Body Armor, et al., 685 F. Supp. 2d 129 (D.D.C. 2010). Lead counsel for employee relator in False Claims Act litigation against manufacturer and supplier of material for defective bullet proof vests.  United States intervened.
  • Vermont Agency of Natural Resources v. U.S. ex rel. Stevens, 529 U.S. 765 (2000). Co-counsel for public interest group in Amicus Curiae brief filed in case upholding the constitutionality of key provisions of the False Claims Act.
  • Wensil v. B.F. Shaw Co. (1987).  Lead Counsel in proceedings before the Department of Energy Office of Inspector General on behalf of the first two successful whistleblowers at a nuclear weapons production facility.  Obtained reinstatement and damage awards.
  • Dr. Frederic Whitehurst v. FBI (administrative and judicial proceedings in 1993-98). Successfully represented first nationally recognized FBI whistleblower.  Case resulted in President Clinton ordering the Attorney General to establish whistleblower protections for FBI employees for the first time. See Memorandum of President William Jefferson Clinton, Vol. 62 Federal Register No. 81, p. 23123 (April 14, 1997).  In addition, the case achieved the accreditation of the FBI crime laboratory and the re-opening and/or review of thousands of criminal cases tainted by fraudulent laboratory procedures.  Dr. Whitehurst obtained a final million-dollar plus settlement to resolve allegations of violations of the Privacy Act and other federal laws.

Michael D. Kohn

Publications, Presentations

BOOKS

  • Whistleblower Law: A Guide to Legal Protections for Corporate Employees (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004) (co-authored with Stephen Kohn and David Colapinto).
  • The Labor Lawyer’s Guide to the Rights and Responsibilities of Employee Whistleblowers (Quorum Books, 1988) (co-authored with Stephen Kohn).

LAW REVIEW, SCHOLARLY ARTICLES

  • An Overview of Federal and State Whistleblower Protection, 4 Antioch Law Journal 99 (Summer, 1986) (co-author).
  • Conscientious Objection:  A Constitutional Right, 21 New England Law Review 545 (1986) (co-author, the Hon. Frederick L. Brown, Associate Justice, Massachusetts Court of Appeals and Stephen Kohn).
  • Human Rights and Freedom of Conscience in Administrative Law: A Critique of the Fugitive Slave Act and the Selective Service Act Through Use of the Liberty Fact Doctrine, 61 University of Detroit Journal of Urban Law 177 (Winter, 1984) (co-author, the Hon. Frederick L. Brown, Associate Justice, Massachusetts Court of Appeals).

INTERNATIONAL PRESENTATIONS

  • APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency Symposium, Seoul, Korea (whistleblowing represents the most effective tool available to detect and end corruption)
  • The Jerusalem Conference for Quality Government, Jerusalem, Israel (The success and availability of international whistleblower protections)
  • 21st Economic Forum Krynica, Poland (Anti-corruption impact resulting from effective whistleblower protections and rewards)
  • Croatia Investigative journalists Panel (Topic: understanding investigative reporting and journalistic methods in the United States)
  • State Department International delegations from: Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa & Yemen (Lessons learned during the creation of whistleblower protections in America)

MEDIA APPEARANCES

BBC, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, MSNBC, FOX, RT, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Constitution, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time Magazine, National Law Journal, and Vanity Fair.

Practice Areas

Bar Admissions

STATE

  • District of Columbia
  • New Jersey, 1986 (inactive)
  • Pennsylvania, 1985 (inactive)

FEDERAL

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Education

  • J.D.  Antioch School of Law (1985)
  • B.S.  Rutgers University (Biology) (1979)

Recognition

  • National Law Journal, “Elite Trial Lawyers” Designation
  • A-V Rating, Martindale-Hubbell®
  • National Law Journal, “Hot List” of Plaintiff’s Law Firms
  • Super Lawyer® Designation
  • Washingtonian Magazine list of “Top 800 Lawyers” in Washington. D.C.
  • Washingtonian Magazine list of “Best Legal Minds”
  • Friend of the IEEE Award
  • Judicial recognition: “among the most experienced and skilled attorneys practicing in the specialty of whistleblower litigation,” Hobby v. Georgia Power Company (2001).