Paul Blakeslee was awarded $3.5 million by a federal jury after the company he worked for, Shaw Environment & Infrastructure, Inc., (Shaw) fired him as retaliation for his exposing its anticompetitive and fraudulent practices. The company was provides materials and services to the government.
Blakeslee was fired as part of an alleged “reduction in force” a day after his letter was received by the company’s CEO, James Bernhard. His letter explained to the CEO that the business had leased approximately $2 million of equipment without taking competitive bids. The product of this practice being the defraudment of the government and the taxpayer.
According to his local paper, in a report you can read here, the lawsuit was never about money for Blakeslee though. He wanted to do the right thing and exposes the less-than-reputable practices he saw in his company.
Blakeslee expressed some disappointment that the lawsuit put distance between him and coworkers, “I enjoyed working hard. It’s hard to put the old horse out to pasture, so to speak,… I miss work. I miss my friends.”
But his melancholy for the distance was replaced quickly by his anger at the supervisor who was stealing from American taxpayers, “You’re spending money, and that’s not your money, that’s the taxpayers’ money. That was always drilled into me. Evidently this jackass thought it was his money to have. He was a slick one.”
“The Federal False Claims Act gives every citizen the power to stand up against fraud and corruption. It gives men and women a chance to say something about it and, hopefully, do something about it,” said Chris Paulos, attorney with Levin, Papantonio.
While Mr. Blakeslee may not see the compensation for his mistreatment at the company’s hand, he is satisfied that the jury was with him and that the company is having to face justice for what it had done. Mr. Blakeslee expects Shaw will appeal the jury’s decision, “I probably won’t get it all … I was just interested in vindication.”