Experience

Won federal whistleblower trial, including punitive damages, against a defense contractor responsible for security investigation services at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

Cejka et al. v. Vectrus Systems Corp., 1:15-cv-02418 (D. Colo.)

WTO lawyers won a federal trial for multiple plaintiffs who exposed what they believed to be serious misconduct by managers of a defense contractor. A jury awarded $1.75 million in compensatory and punitive damages.


WTO attorneys Ray Martin, John Fitzpatrick, and Kate Mercer-Lawson

Raymond Martin leads WTO’s employment practice. “In 40 years practicing employment law,” said Martin, “I’ve represented plaintiffs only twice, when the situation was so egregious that helping out was essential to achieve justice. This case was the second time.” WTO partner and former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger John Fitzpatrick, and attorneys from the Chicago office of Freeborn, tried the case with Martin.
 
WTO’s clients provided security investigation services at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. They were responsible for inputting data in a highly sensitive computer system used by the U.S. military and NATO to track suspected terrorists. The plaintiffs discovered instances when data in the system had been altered clandestinely, deleting information important to maintaining the security of Bagram and potentially other military facilities from the system.
 
The plaintiffs contended at trial that when they reported concerns to their supervisors, they were told to stand down. They also informed U.S. military officials of the alteration of data in the system and cooperated in a joint investigation by Army counterintelligence and the Air Force Office of Security Investigations. The military investigation resulted in the debarment and removal of eight employees of the contractor.
 
Over the next two months, three of the plaintiffs were fired and two were assigned to forward operating bases—the front lines in the war in Afghanistan. Shelling at the forward operating bases was so intense, and conditions so dangerous, that field personnel called one base “Rocket City.” Prior to arriving at Bagram, none of the plaintiffs had ever received so much as a note in their files regarding poor performance or discipline. None had ever before been fired from a job, and all had prior experience serving in the U.S. Armed Forces or municipal police departments.
 
In trial, the defense contractor represented that the three fired employees had all been fired for nonretaliatory reasons. The defense also represented that the remaining two employees, who had been reassigned to forward bases, had been laid off rather than constructively discharged. The jury rejected these defenses and found for WTO’s clients.

Won a federal whistleblower trial, including compensatory and punitive damages totaling $1.75 million, against a defense contractor responsible for security investigation services at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.