Hanford Whistleblower May Not Get Jury Trial

May 4, 2012

A Hanford whistleblower lawsuit is underway in federal court in Yakima. A former high-level manager on a nuclear treatment project is asking for a jury trial, but the judge hearing the case said Thursday that’s unlikely. Correspondent Anna King was there.

Walt Tamosaitis was helping to design a $12 billion waste treatment plant in southeast Washington. He claims that his employer called URS took him out of his high-level management position for raising safety concerns. Tamosaitis also alleges that a Department of Energy manager was involved in that decision. He wants his job back, damages from URS and a jury trial. It’s not clear that he’ll get the latter. Federal Judge Lonny Suko said he was skeptical of allowing a jury. But Tamosaitis’ lawyer, Jack Sheridan, says he’s still hopeful.

“We’ll just have to wait and see, but I think that when the judge has an opportunity to look closely at the case law, especially the Supreme Court precedent, it’s quite clear that a jury is required,” Sheridan says.

The Department of Energy and contractor URS argue they should be removed from the lawsuit altogether.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio [050312AK_Tamosaitis.jpg: Walt Tamosaitis and his wife outside the federal courthouse in Yakima, Wash. Thursday. By Anna King.]