Tamosaitis v. URS, Inc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
781 F.3d 468 (2015)
The Department of Energy contracted with Bechtel National, Inc. (Bechtel) to clean up pollution at the waste-treatment plant at the Hanford Nuclear Site, formerly a nuclear-weapons production facility. Bechtel subcontracted work on the waste-treatment plant to URS Energy & Construction, Inc (URS) (defendant). Walter Tamosaitis (plaintiff) was an employee of URS assigned to lead a study of the cleanup project. Tamosaitis identified one issue involving a design problem that remained unresolved. Tamosaitis recommended extending the deadline for resolving the design issue to September 2010. However, failure to meet a June 2010 deadline for resolving the issue would jeopardize a six-million-dollar fee payable to Bechtel. Bechtel rejected Tamosaitis’s suggestion and declared the issue resolved by June 2010. In response, Tamosaitis raised a list of environmental and safety concerns at a meeting hosted by Bechtel and forwarded the list to URS. Tamosaitis also discussed the matter with consultants at the waste-treatment plant. Shortly after, Tamosaitis was removed by URS from the waste-treatment-plant cleanup project. Tamosaitis was offered other positions within URS, but all positions required relocation. Tamosaitis sued URS for wrongful transfer under the whistleblower provision of the Energy Reorganization Act (ERA). Tamosaitis demanded a jury trial, but the district court granted the URS motion to strike Tamosaitis’s jury demand on the grounds that Tamosaitis did not have a statutory or constitutional right to a jury trial for the claim under the ERA’s whistleblower provision. Tamosaitis appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Berzon, J.)
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