Brundridge v. Fluor Federal Serv., 164 Wn.2d 432, 191 P.3d 879 (2008) (view WELA’s brief)

In Brundridge v. Fluor,?the employee pipe fitters brought a claim for wrongful discharge in violation of a clear mandate of public policy alleging retaliation and relying upon the Energy Reorganization Act (ERA), 42 U.S.C. ? 5851.? The jury heard more than a month of testimony and found Fluor liable for wrongful discharge of all 11 employees.? The jury awarded the plaintiffs a total of $4,802,600 in back pay, front pay, and emotional distress damages.

Four months after the jury verdict the State Supreme Court decided Korslund v. Dnycorp, 156 Wn.2d 168, 125 P.3d 119 (2005), and ruled that the ERA was an adequate alternative means for vindicating public policy, foreclosing the “jeopardy” element required for a claim of wrongful discharge.? Fluor filed a CR 60 motion for relief from judgment, arguing that the Court’s decision in Korslund v. DynCorp, was controlling.? Plaintiffs argued that the issue was waived and there was not an intervening change in the law.? The motion was denied, the Defendant appealed, and the Court of Appeals certified the case to the State Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled that the court’s holding in Korslund was not a change in the law for purposes of waiver because the conclusion reached in Korslund was an open question at the time of the waiver.? The Court further ruled “it is possible that the ERA remedies, though adequate as a matter of law in Korslund, would not adequately protect the proffered public policy in this case. The pipe fitters also could have presented factual evidence that, for example, they took specific actions to protect public policy that were not covered by the ERA remedies. Fluor’s waiver was not inconsequential to the pipe fitters’ case.”

View Court’s Opinion: Brundridge v. Fluor Federal Serv.