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Stopping Hush Money

Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto led the effort to ban “hush money” payments in federal cases involving environmental and nuclear violations.

KKC represented Joe Macktal, a journeyman electrician who worked for Halliburton Brown & Root building the Comanche Peak nuclear plant. After exposing serious safety defects at the plant, lawyers for Halliburton Brown & Root coerced Mr. Macktal into signing a settlement agreement that prohibited him from telling the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about his safety concerns. Macktal complained of the restrictions, but was warned that the powerful corporation would: “follow him to the ends of the earth,” and ruin him financially.

In 1988, Joe Macktal rocked the corporate world when he blew the whistle on these hush money agreements and testified at a Senate Environmental and Public Affairs Committee hearing with oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Committee, which was forced to void these restrictive settlement agreements. Mr. Macktal’s case rendered such agreements illegal under federal whistleblower law and set national precedent for whistleblowers.

Mr. Macktal was a guest on the Phil Donahue show in 1996 during an early discussion of the importance of whistleblowers in our society that helped bring whistleblowers to the attention of the American public.

KKC successfully litigated the first whistleblower hush money cases, which resulted in a nationwide ban on restrictive settlements in nuclear and environmental cases, requiring government approval to ensure the right of employees to blow the whistle on safety issues was not compromised during the settlement process.  The firm successfully litigated these hush money cases in the FourthFifth and Ninth Circuits.

The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself details these protections in “RULE 20: Don’t Take Hush Money.”

If you have knowledge of Hush Money being paid to prevent reports of fraud or misconduct and would like to know how Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto can help you with your case, please contact us by completing our Consultation Request Form.