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Associated Press: Morgan City Shell whistleblower gets more than $600,000 (*Please take note Dr Huong)

MORGAN CITY, La. — A Morgan City man who claimed that Shell Oil Co. fired him in retaliation for whistleblowing has received more than $600,000 in tripled back pay and pension benefits, and interest on the award.

William C. Overton Jr. said he was fired because he reported alleged violations involving both pollution and paperwork on Shell offshore rigs.

Shell spokesman Fred Palmer did not have immediate comment.

Overton got a check for just under $614,000 on Friday, nearly a month and a half after the Louisiana Supreme Court refused to hear Shell’s appeal. The total award was nearly $921,000, but his attorneys got one-third.

The total was one of the largest ever under Louisiana’s environmental whistleblower law, and the courts broke new ground in saying that lost retirement benefits were among damages which could be tripled in such suits, said attorney James L. Arruebarrena of New Orleans.

Jurors found that Overton had lost $9,700 in wages, but nearly $152,000 in pension benefits.

The case began in 1997, when Overton, who had worked for Shell since 1984 and had no previous disciplinary actions, was suspended for a week for something he denied doing _ setting a safety valve too high.

Overton filed a federal court complaint in 1998, saying a contract worker had falsified a report about that incident, and other Shell workers covered this up. That same year, he was transferred to another platform, where he got a poor evaluation because he used a seal that would show when someone changed his safety valve settings.

He filed other reports about alleged violations and was fired in July 2000. Shell said he was fired for missing a flight to report to work; Overton said he had not been told of a new policy requiring workers to meet the helicopter at least 30 minutes before a scheduled flight.

A state Civil District Court judge in New Orleans agreed that his dismissal was retaliation, and awarded him $203,000 in damages, interest and attorneys fees, which it tripled for a total of about $609,000.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeal said some of the interest could not be tripled. However, additional interest, plus $164,874 in attorneys’ fees and interest on those, brought the total to $920,944.

Like most people who sue for damages, Overton had an agreement to pay one-third of the total if he won his claim, but nothing if he lost.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

*Added by ShellNews.net: Dr Huong is the Shell whistleblower in Malaysia being sued by EIGHT Royal Dutch Shell companies for alleged defamation. He is also the subject of contempt proceedings with Shell seeking his imprisonment. His case against Shell for wrongful dismissal resumed in the Industrial High Court this week.

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2 Comments on “Associated Press: Morgan City Shell whistleblower gets more than $600,000 (*Please take note Dr Huong)”

  1. #1 William C. Overton Jr.
    on Aug 8th, 2007 at 00:55

    The public should know that a case like this can only be handled by the best of attorneys. I employed two attorneys, one specialized in employment law and the other is a professor of law at Tulane University and manages his own firm in New Orleans. If anyone is seeking attorneys of this caliber please contact me. [email protected]

  2. #2 William C. Overton Jr.
    on Aug 8th, 2007 at 00:55

    The public should know that a case like this can only be handled by the best of attorneys. I employed two attorneys, one specialized in employment law and the other is a professor of law at Tulane University and manages his own firm in New Orleans. If anyone is seeking attorneys of this caliber please contact me. [email protected]

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