$4.8 million Hanford verdict award upheld
- Seattle Post Intelligencer
YAKIMA -- The state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a $4.8 million verdict in favor of 11 pipefitters who claimed they were fired for raising safety concerns at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
The workers filed suit nine years ago against Fluor Federal Services of Richland, a contractor at the south-central Washington nuclear site. They claimed they were laid off after refusing orders to install a valve they believed was too weak for the job.
A Benton County Superior Court jury awarded them damages in 2005. Fluor Federal Services, part of the Irving, Texas-based Fluor Corp., appealed, in part arguing that the damage awards were excessive.
The court rejected that argument Thursday, saying, 'The awards in question were supported by the evidence.'
Supporters of the workers were thrilled.
'This is a decision that is going to resonate throughout Hanford for decades,' said Tom Carpenter, executive director of Hanford Challenge, a watchdog group.
The previous jury award already has improved how safety whistle-blowers are treated there, he said. 'It's a wonderful thing.'