Successful Whistleblower Cases

Successful Whistleblower Cases

Our partners commenced representing whistleblowers in 1984, achieving landmark victories, including the largest award ever given to an individual whistleblower, nation-wide precedents outlawing restrictive non-disclosure agreements, establishing First Amendment protections for whistleblowers and setting the record for the most amount of compensation awarded to whistleblowers under the major qui tam programs in one calendar year ($232 million awarded under the SEC, IRS and False Claims Act whistleblower laws).  

Below are some of the firm’s major achievements:

Whistleblower Rewards and Qui Tam

  • Set the record for the most amount of rewards issued to whistleblowers in a single year under the False Claims Act, SEC, and IRS whistleblower reward and qui tam laws: Over $232 million awarded to multiple whistleblower clients in one calendar year.
  • U.S. ex rel. Richardson v. Bristol Myers Squibb.  Represented 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. SEC release
  • Dankse Bank/Howard Wilkinson. Largest money laundering scandal in history ($230 billion in suspect transaction, involving Citi Bank, JP Morgan, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Dankse Bank). Case ongoing but Estonian branch has closed and various criminal prosecutions initiated. Read the Wall Street Journal article, and watch his testimony before the Danish parliament below. 
  • IRS Whistleblower Award. Case of Whistleblower 7460. $10,836,467.73 (2019). Large banking case. The identity of the whistleblower remains confidential.
  • IRS Whistleblower Award. Case of Whistleblower 435. $12,781,050.59 (2018). Large banking case.  The identity of the whistleblower remains confidential.
  • IRS Whistleblower Award. Case of Whistleblower 673. $24,473,293.65 (2018). Large banking case.  The identity of the whistleblower remains confidential.
  • IRS Whistleblower Award. Case of Whistleblower 6386. $2,229,553.32 (2017). Large banking case. The identity of the whistleblower remains confidential.
  • IRS Whistleblower Award. Case of Whistleblower 21276. $17,791,706 (2017) and $2,394,794.11 (2016) and $11,631,512.50 (2015). Large banking case. The identity of the whistleblower remains confidential. 
  • IRS Whistleblower Award. Case of Whistleblower 21277. $4,474,000 (2015). Large banking case. The identity of the whistleblower remains confidential. 
  • Whistleblower 21276-13W v. CIR (147 TC 4) (Tax Court case decided in 2017). Set nation-wide precedent for paying whistleblowers who reported criminal tax law violations and civil FBAR penalties for having undisclosed foreign bank accounts.  Case was used as precedent for 2018 amendments to the tax whistleblower law.
  • SEC Whistleblower Award. Clients were confidential. Award was over $35 million. 
  • U.S. ex rel. Barko v. Halliburton, 952 F. Supp 2d 108 (D.D.C. July 8, 2013).  Represented 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. The D.C. district court has ordered the release of incriminating documents, which Halliburton had repeatedly attempted to keep out of court, claiming Attorney-client privilege.
  • In the matter of Alex Chepurko. Major victory in whistleblower reward case recovering over $50 million and the first known whistleblower case filed under three different qui tam whistleblower laws: the IRS whistleblower statute, the SEC whistleblower award program and the False Claims Act. KKC attorney David Colapinto was called as a witness on behalf of the United States in the criminal securities fraud trial as an expert on False Claims qui tam cases.
  • Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States, ex rel. Hunt. Represented amicus curiae in case filed to the Supreme Court on behalf of a whistleblower, Justices unanimously ruled in favor of whistleblowers filing under the False Claims Act.
  • 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.).  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.
  • Insigna v. IRS. Filed amicus curiae brief in major tax court case on delay of payments of rewards to whistleblowers.
  • U.S. ex rel. Irwin v. Significant Education, (D. Ariz Feb. 10, 2009)(D. Ariz. June 7, 2011).  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 27.5% “relator’s share.”
  • Khwaja v. WMATA. Obtained $996,480 in damages in a False Claims qui tam settlement for Mr. Khwaja’s wrongful termination after he disclosed information of wrongdoing. 
  • U.S. ex rel. Nouri v. World-Wide Language Resources, Inc. (E.D. Pa.). Counsel under False Claims Act for illegal charges incurred by United States in War in Afghanistan. United States intervened and the relator obtained reward.
  • In re: SCBA Liquidation.  Representation of qui tam whistleblower in bankruptcy proceedings against the former largest U.S. bulletproofs vest-manufacturing company.  Company admitted to liability to the United States for contracting fraud in the amount of approximately $300 million.
  • United States ex rel. Scollick v. Narula. Precedent-setting case that expanded the scope of False Claims Act liability. . 
  • State Farm Fire and Casualty Company v. U.S. ex rel. Rigsby. Represented public interest group in amicus curiae filing opposing the automatic dismissal of False Claims Act cases in which seal was violated.
  • Vermont Agency of Natural Resources v. U.S. ex rel. Stevens, 529 U.S. 765 (2000). Represented public interest group in Amicus Curiae brief filed in case upholding the constitutionality of key provisions of the False Claims Act.
  • U.S. ex rel. Westrick v. Second Chance Body Armor.  Successful litigation against the largest bullet proof manufacturing company in the United States and a Japanese manufacturing company that sold defective bullet proof vests to police departments throughout the United States and federal agencies. 
  • Westrick v. American Body Armor. Lead trial and appellate counsel under California False Claims Act regarding the sale of defective bullet proof vests to state law enforcement officers. After Court of Appeals ruling in favor of Dr. Westrick, defendants paid settlement-compensating California for the vests and paying the whistleblower reward under state law. Over $100 million recovered from various manufacturers and importers. Watch Senator Grassley speak about Westrick at National Whistleblower Day.

Ending Hush Money and Illegal NDAs

  • Macktal v. Brown & Root, Inc. 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. 
  • Macktal v. Secretary of Labor, 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.
  • In re: KBR NDAs – Successfully challenged restrictive non disclosure agreements (NDAs) used by KBR, Inc. Set nationwide precedent and obtained the first SEC decision barring such agreements and fining a company for approving NDAs. Read the press release.
  • Thompson v. U.S. Dept. of Labor, 885 F.2d 551 (9th Cir. 1989)(argued). Set precedent permitting Department of Labor review for restrictive settlement agreements and the authority voiding such agreements. Obtained judicial recognition of the requirement that the Department of Labor approve settlement agreements in federal nuclear whistleblower cases. Obtained first Equal Access to Justice attorney fee award against Department of Labor under nuclear whistleblower law.
  • Carolina Power and Light Co. v. U.S. Dept. of Labor, 43 F.3d 912 (4th Cir. 1995)(argued).  Precedent setting litigation upholding Department of Labor’s authority to prohibit “hush money” settlement agreements under the Atomic Energy Act.
  • In the matter of NeuStar, Inc. SEC case following KBR precedent outlawing NDAs in publicly traded companies.

Whistleblower Retaliation 

  • Bertacchi v. City of Columbus, 2003-WPC-11 (2005). Prevailed in retaliation case filed under hearing on the merits.
  • Bloom v. Department of the Army, 101 M.S.P.R. 79 (2006).  Set national precedent that adverse findings against whistleblower by Office of Special Counsel not admissible in Merit Systems Protection Board proceedings without consent of whistleblower.
  • Bobreski v J. Givoo Consultants, 2008-ERA-003 (ALJ 2014). Prevailed in a blacklisting and a wrongful termination case after hearing on the merits.
  • Bonds v. Leavitt, 629 F. 3d 369, 384 (4thCir. 2011). Represented lead researcher in anemia research whistleblower case. Strong precedent for whistleblowers to obtain access to federal court and remedies under Whistleblower Protection Act.  
  • Charvat v. Eastern Ohio Regional Wastewater Authority, 96-ERA-7 (1998). Prevailed in retaliation case under whistleblower laws after full hearing on the merit.
  • Convertino v. Department of Justice, (D.C. Cir. 2012)(argued).  Reversal of summary judgment ruling on high-profile Privacy Act case concerning former top U.S. prosecutor. 
  • Day v. Dept. of Homeland Security, (MSPB June 26, 2013).  Represented public interest group in Amicus Curiae brief successfully arguing that certain provisions of Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act were clarification of existing law justifying application to pending cases.
  • Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers. The KKC lawyers vigorously fought for the protection of internal whistleblowers but the Supreme Court rejected these arguments. However, the ruling of the Supreme Court sent a clear message that SEC whistleblowers filing under the Dodd Frank Act should report directly to the SEC to avoid retaliation. Read the amicus curiae brief and the court’s ruling
  • Doyle v. Hydro Nuclear, 1989-Energy Reorganization Act Case No. 22 (U.S. Secretary of Labor) (2000) (1996), reversed on other grounds. Precedent establishing the scope of damages for successor employers under whistleblower laws; precedent establishing extensive damages for temporary employees.
  • Eller v. Idaho State Police. Victory in Idaho Supreme Court setting precedent expanding damage recoverable to whistleblowers who were fired. Read the amicus curiae brief and the court’s ruling.
  • 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.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Waffle House, 534 U.S. 279, 122 S.Ct. 724 (2001).  Represented public interest group as Amicus Curiae in case concerning impact of an arbitration agreement on EEOC’s authority to seek relief for victims of discrimination.
  • Fishbein v. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006 MSPB 96 (April 21, 2006).  National precedent holding that federal employees hired under “Title 42” (i.e. highly skilled professionals hired outside of the merit system process) were protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act.
  • Gaballa v. Atlantic Group, Case No. 94-ERA-9 (U.S. Dept. of Labor). Successful precedent setting litigation before the Secretary of Labor establishing standards for blacklisting cases and obtaining award of compensatory damages.
  • Garner v. M-K Ferguson Corp., 456 S.E.2d 907 (S.C. 1995). Obtained first state Supreme Court victory establishing right to a jury trial under state employment law for a whistleblower at a nuclear weapons plant.
  • Genberg v. Porter. Represented amicus curiae in precedent-setting case under the Sarbanes Oxley Act setting forth the reasonable belief test. Read the amicus curiae brief and the court’s ruling
  • 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).  Lead attorney for public interest Amicus Curiae in case establishing employee-witness protection under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2).
  • Hashimoto v. Bank of Hawaii, 999 F.2d 408 (9th Cir. 1993). Counsel in successful appeal reversing summary judgment, recognizing cause of action for whistleblower retaliation under ERISA and remanding for trial.
  • Hobby v. Georgia Power Co.Case No. 90-ERA-30 (U.S. Dept. of Labor)No. 01-10916 (11th Cir. 2002) (argued).  Successfully represented high ranking corporate official in judicial and administrative litigation over a ten-year period establishing numerous precedents in corporate whistleblower cases regarding liability and damages available to corporate officers. 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). Successfully represented in case establishing precedent under the “mixed case” doctrine, carving out an exception for federal employees to file claims in federal court. (Oral Argument available here).
  • Jayko v. Ohio, 99-CAA-05 (2000).  Successful representation of a whistleblower 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.
  • Kansas Gas & Electric v. Brock, 780 F.2d 1505 (10th Cir. 1985). Represented public interestamicus curiae in precedent setting case developing the law protecting internal corporate whistleblowers.
  • Khandelwal v. Southern California Edison, 1997-ERA-6 (Department of Labor).  Precedent requiring Administrative Law Judges to permit whistleblowers to fully present their cases with competent counsel.
  • Kobus v. FBI, OARM-WB No. 06-3. Co-Counsel in a successful case before the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management on behalf of an FBI employee who reported wrongdoing as part of his ordinary oversight role at the FBI and was retaliated against. 
  • Lawson v. FMR LLC (Fidelity Investments). Represented amicus curiae in victorious Supreme Court case expanding scope for employees under the Sarbanes Oxley Act. Read the amicus curiae brief and the court’s ruling
  • Levellie v. New York Air National Guard, Case No. 94-ERA-9 (U.S. Dept. of Labor). Precedent setting litigation establishing standards for “badmouthing”  and blacklisting in corporate cases. 
  • 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).  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.
  • Manion v. Nitelines, et al. (E.D. North Carolina)(2013).  First case to find that private sector independent contractors were protected as “employees” under the Defense Department Whistleblower Protection Act.
  • 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.
  • Mitchell v. Arizona Public Service Co., Case No. 91-ERA-9 (U.S. Dept. of Labor).  First ever decision applying “hostile work environment” doctrine in nuclear whistleblower case.  Prevailed in merits hearing and obtained compensatory damage award.
  • Mosbaugh v. Georgia Power Co., 91-ERA-1 (ALJ Oct. 30, 1992) (Counsel at hearing and on appeals).  Established key precedent governing when a whistleblower can engage in one-party taping to document misconduct.  Whistleblower was ordered reinstated with full back pay after being fired for taping conversations of corporate executives conspiring to violate safety rules. Taping upheld as a protection for disclosures. 
  • Nunn v. Duke Power Company, 84-Energy Reorganization Act Case No. 27 (Secretary of Labor).  Established right of nuclear workers to disclose safety problems to non-governmental public interest organizations.
  • Opthof v. Ashland Chemical Co., 94-CAA-7 (ALJ May 8, 1995).  Prevailed at merits hearing on behalf of wrongfullydischarged chemical engineer. 
  • Plumley v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 86-CAA-6 (ALJ June 22, 1987).  First-ever successful employment-related whistleblower case on behalf of federal prisoner.
  • Roberts v. FBI (Office of Inspector General Investigation).  Removal of FBI Assistant Director after finding that FBI Supervisory Special Agent John Roberts was subjected to retaliation after 60 Minutes interview.
  • Russo v. EPA.  Won order reinstating whistleblower as the director of an EPA research laboratory.  Ruling cited in the legislative history of the No Fear Act as one of the cases that triggered the passage of that law.
  • Sanjour v. EPA, 56 F.3d 85 (D.C. Cir. 1995)(en banc) and 7 F.Supp.2d 14 (D.C.D.C. 1998)(argued). Nationwide injunctive relief on behalf of all federal employees establishing their First Amendment right to publicly blow the whistle on their employing agencies.
  • Saporito v. Arizona Public Service Co., 92-ERA-30 (DOL proceedings). Precedent on the right of whistleblowers to circumvent the “chain of command” in raising safety concerns.
  • Sylvester v. Parexel International LLC, 2007-SOX-39, 42 (May 25, 2011)(argued). Argued case key case establishing the controlling precedent on standards for raising a protected disclosure under corporate whistleblower laws on behalf of public interest amicus curiae.
  • Thomas v. Arizona Public Service Co., 89-ERA-19 (DOL proceedings) and (SOL proceedings).  Represented whistleblower at hearing and on appeal establishing liability and significant damage under whistleblower law for denial of training opportunities.
  • In re: Jane Turner . Largest compensation award issued by Deputy Attorney General under the FBI Whistleblower Protection Act after prolonged administrative adjudication ($900,000.00 in damages and fees).
  • Turner v. Gonzales, 421 F.3d 688 (8th Cir. 2005)(argued).  Appeals Court precedent on definition of adverse action in performance review and transfer cases filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  Obtained maximum permitted compensatory damage award in the remand-jury trial. Lead trial and appellate counsel.
  • Villanueva v. FBI, No. 98-CV-01704 (D.D.C.).  Obtained right of FBI agents to pursue claims under the First Amendment based on illegal retaliation for First Amendment protected speech.
  • Weaver v. USIA, 87 F.3d 1429 (D.C. Cir. 1996)(argued).  Recognized right of federal employees to obtain prospective injunctive relief in federal court (without exhausting administrative remedies with the Merit Systems Protection Board) in cases involving violation of First Amendment rights.
  • Wensil v. B.F. Shaw Co. (1987).  Represented first-ever whistleblowers at nuclear weapons plant in proceedings before the Department of Energy. 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.
  • Wiest v. Lynch, No. 11-4257 (3d Cir. Mar. 19, 2013) (argued).  Argued case on behalf of public interest amicus curiae establishing favorable precedent on standard of proof for a protected disclosure under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
  • Youssef v. FBI, 687 F.3d 1332 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (argued).  Lead counsel in successful appeal filed on behalf of the highest-ranking Arab American FBI agent who exposed discriminatory practices and weaknesses in the FBI counterterrorism program.

Public Interest

  • Avirgan v. Hull, 118 F.R.D. 252 and 118 F.R.D. 257 (D.D.C. 1987). Represented the Village Voice in establishing the national precedent for allowing journalists to attend pretrial depositions in cases impacting on the public interest over the objection of the deponent.
  • Edmonds v. FBI, 417 F.3d 1319 (D.C. Cir. 2005).  Successful representation of FBI translator in proceedings before the Office of Inspector General and under the Freedom of Information Act. Lead counsel in D.C. Circuit appeal holding that an order expediting FOIA request satisfies prevailing party standard for award of attorney’s fees.
  • 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. 
  • U.S. v. McVeigh and U.S. v. Nichols. Represented leading FBI explosives expert in various proceedings related to the Oklahoma City bombing case, including confidential depositions, proceedings before the DOJ Office of Inspector General and obtaining a temporary restraining order and injunction from U.S. District Court prohibiting witness intimidation.  Reported widely in the national press.
  • Murphy v. IRS460 F.3d 79 (D.C. Cir. 2006). First successful constitutional challenge under the 16th Amendment to the taxation of compensatory damages. Decision vacated and reversed on other constitutional grounds, 493 F.3d 170 (D.C. Cir. 2007), rehearing, en banc, denied by Murphy v. IRS2007 U.S. App. 05-5139 (D.C. Cir., 2007), certiorari denied by Murphy v. IRS, 2008 U.S. 05-5139 (U.S., Apr. 21, 2008).
  • NACDL, et al. v. Department of Justice, 182 F.3d 981 (D.C. Cir. 1999).  Successful Freedom of Information litigation resulting in the release of the DOJ Inspector General report exposing high-level misconduct within the FBI crime lab, and awarding interim attorneys fees under FOIA.
  • Nat’l Whistleblower Ctr. v. HHS, 904 F. Supp. 2d 59 (D.D.C. 2012). Preliminary injunction forcing FDA to immediately release records related to FDA’s email monitoring of employee-whistleblowers; precedent holding that agencies waive right to withhold privileged documents that contain strong evidence of government misconduct.
  • People v. O.J. Simpson.  Represented lead FBI forensic chemist during two days of confidential depositions in the O.J. Simpson criminal trial.
  • U.S. v. Rahman and U.S. v. Salemeh(first World Trade Center bombing cases). Represented leading FBI explosives expert concerning forensic misconduct in the first and second World Trade Center bombing cases. Widely reported in the national press.
  • 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.
  • TWA 800 Airline Crash.  Representation of FBI’s former Chief Metallurgist in proceedings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee concerning FBI misconduct during the investigation into the causes of the crash of TWA flight 800.

Whistleblower Attorneys

Stephen M. Kohn – Founding Partner

Michael D. Kohn – Founding Partner

David K. Colapinto – Founding Partner

Mary Jane Wilmoth – Managing Partner

Todd Yoder – Associate Attorney

Kelsey Condon – Associate Attorney

Maraya Best – Associate Attorney

Siri Nelson – Legal Fellow

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