Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell, in partnership with Chicago-based Freeborn & Peters, saw a plaintiff’s-side trial verdict in a whistleblower retaliation case from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. The plaintiff’s-side work is an unusual undertaking for the defense-focused firm.
On its face, the case was an employment law dispute that questioned whether five defense contractors were fired for blowing the whistle on other employees’ conduct. The plaintiffs’ argument was that they were following U.S. military orders to report wrongdoing and in doing so, closed holes in the base’s security. The defense argued in trial, however, that the contractors were in fact laid off for refusing a transfer to a different location. A jury in federal court in Denver sided with the plaintiffs, awarding four of five plaintiffs compensatory damages of $1.35 million and punitive damages against the employer for $400,000.