Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Judges: J. Paez, Fisher, Gould

Date of Decision: 03/02/18

Underlying verdict affirmed: $1,250,000

Basic Facts and Claims: Whistleblower retaliation claim under the Federal Rail Safety Act. Plaintiff alleged that BNSF management conspired to manufacture false charges against Elliott to dismiss him just 33 days after it was fined by the Federal Gov’t for a safety issue Elliott had raised.

Damages Awarded: Total wage loss claimed: $840,000
Punitive damages: $250,000 (statutory max under FRSA)
9th Circuit affirmed that compensatory damages (emotional distress) supported the $1,000,000 verdict.

Expert Witnesses: Jeff Opp, Economist for Plaintiff

Plaintiff Attorneys: Sara Amies, Teller & Associates
Jim Vucinovich, Rossi Vucinovich

For Defendant BNSF:
Tim Wackerbarth, Lane Powell; BNSF in-house counsel.

District Court judge: Leighton