Debra S. Katz's Notable Case Successes
University of Colorado, Boulder (2014)
Katz, Marshall & Banks partners Debra Katz and Lisa Banks brought a Title IX claim on behalf of a graduate student at the University of Colorado alleging retaliation. KMB alleged that CU-Boulder violated Title IX by exposing the student to a sexually hostile academic environment and to retaliation by a tenured Professor in the Department after her Title IX claims were validated by the University’s Office of Discrimination and Harassment. The case settled for $850,000 plus various non-monetary provisions, including a public statement from the University Chancellor stating that settling the claims was "the right thing to do."
Gordon v. ArmorGroup, No. 1:10cv002 (JCC), 2010 WL 3418219 (E.D. Va. Aug. 27, 2010)
Employee brought suit under the False Claims Act alleging that his employer used him to unwittingly mislead the State Department in regard to information relating to a security contract his employer had entered into with the Department of State to provide security services at the United States Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Court denied employer’s motion for summary judgment concluding that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to the continued nature and duration of the allegedly illegal acts employee was requested and required to participate in, thereby precluding summary judgment in an action alleging constructive termination under the False Claims Act.
United States of America ex rel. James Gordon v. ArmorGroup North America, 1:09-cv-01547-RCL
In July 2011, ArmorGroup North America and its affiliates paid $7.5 million to resolve allegations that AGNA submitted false claims for payment on a State Department contract to provide armed guard services at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The settlement resolves U.S. claims that in 2007 and 2008, AGNA guards violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) by visiting brothels in Kabul, and that AGNA’s management knew about the guards’ activities. The settlement resolves a whistleblower suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia under seal by James Gordon against AGNA, ArmorGroup International plc, G4S plc and Wackenhut Services Inc. under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act.
Barrett v. Chreky, 634 F.Supp.2d 33 (D.D.C. 2009)
Jury in the District Court for the District of Columbia awarded Ronnie Barrett $300,000 in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages in her sexual harassment and retaliation suit against Andre Chreky and the Andre Chreky Salon, one of the top-rated salons in Washington, D.C. Mr. Chreky was the hairdresser to former First Lady Laura Bush. Ms. Barrett was a former hair colorist at the salon.
Wynne v. Birach, 2009 WL 3672119 (E.D. Va. 2009)
Default judgment in the amount of $1,566,666 awarded against defendant in a suit for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy under the law of the Commonwealth of Virginia and breach of contract. Plaintiff alleged that she was forced into a constructive discharge as a result of the defendant subjecting her to severe and pervasive sexual harassment and directing her to submit false statements to a lending institution).
Speegle v. Stone & Webster, ARB Case No. 06-041 (Sept. 24, 2009)
ARB issues an important victory for nuclear workers in the nuclear power industry. Speegle alleged that he was terminated in 2004 for blowing the whistle on nuclear safety lapses at TVA’s Browns Ferry nuclear power plant. The ARB decision reinforced the rights of nuclear workers to speak out about safety issues without fear of retaliation.
Capitol Tunnel Workers v. Architect of the Capitol
Complaint filed under the Congressional Accountability Act with the Office of Compliance on behalf of ten U.S. Capitol tunnel workers. Ms. Katz, along with Mr. Marshall who served as lead counsel, successfully represented ten U.S. Capitol tunnel workers in a whistleblower retaliation complaint against the Architect of the Capitol. The workers charged the Architect with harassing and threatening them after they alerted Congress in March 2006 to the life-threatening levels of asbestos and other hazards they faced while working in the utility tunnels that run beneath the U.S. Capitol. In June 2007, the workers and the Architect agreed to a substantial out-of-court settlement that was later approved by the Congressional Office of Compliance.
Blanton v. Biogen Idec, Inc., Case No. 2006-SOX-4, DOL OALJ (April 18, 2006)
In a whistleblower case brought under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Debra Katz successfully defeated a motion for a protective order filed by the defendant to prevent the plaintiff from deposing Biogen Idec’s CEO, James Mullen. Mr. Blanton alleged that the Boston-based pharmaceutical fired its chief reimbursement expert in retaliation for complaints about illegal kickbacks to physicians.
Roger Barnes v. Fannie Mae (October 2004)
The Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed allegations made by Roger Barnes, a former Fannie Mae accounting manager, that the mortgage-finance giant cooked its books and retaliated against him for complaining about it. The SEC further concluded that Fannie Mae manipulated its earnings through "cookie jar" accounting and order Fannie Mae to restate its earnings. As a result of Mr. Barnes' disclosures, Fannie Mae's management team, including Fannie Mae’s CEO and other top executives, were removed from their positions. Ultimately, Fannie Mae's restatement of earnings was one of the largest in U.S. history. Additionally, Barnes received a sizable settlement.
Bowles v. National Ass’n of Home Builders, 224 F.R.D. 246 (D.D.C. 2004)
Waiver of attorney-client and work-product by defendants relating to our client’s claims of tortious interference with contract and civil conspiracy to cause wrongful termination. Bowles, formerly President of the NAHB Research Center alleged that the Center, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NAHB, terminated her at the behest of NAHB and its officers because she refused to sign a License Agreement demanded by NAHB for the sole purpose of reducing the aggregate taxes paid by NAHB and its subsidiary entities. Under the terms demanded, the Center would be required to make annual royalty payments to NAHB of five percent (5%) of its gross revenues in exchange for the Center’s continued use of its own trade name, “NAHB Research Center.” Bowles objected, upon advice of counsel, noting that the IRS would likely view the License Agreement as a fraudulent attempt to evade taxes.
Estes v. Georgetown University, 231 F. Supp. 279 (D.D.C. 2002)
Jury verdict of $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages for claims of sex discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation.
Riggs v. Home Builders Institute, 203 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2002)
Former Congressman Frank Riggs filed suit against the Home Builders Institute alleging that it terminated his employment solely because he refused to participate in activities prohibited by federal tax laws and Department of Labor regulations and because he insisted that HBI comply with federal tax laws. District Court held that the complaint properly stated a claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy under District of Columbia law.