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New York Construction Wage Whistleblower Gets Attorneys’ Fees

March 19, 2021, 1:51 PM

A False Claims Act whistleblower is entitled to nearly $260,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs for efforts that led to a settlement between Nagan Construction Inc., the federal government, and New York involving underpaid wages in construction projects, a New York district court said.

This recovery for Soner Yasti reflects reasonable hourly rates for law firm partners with a “considerable amount of experience” pursuing an FCA case in the Southern District of New York, Judge Analisa Torres said in a Thursday order.

Yasti has until April 18 to file a supplemental motion for fees and costs incurred after February 2020, the court said.

Yasti’s September 2017 suit resulted in a $435,000 settlement between the federal government and Nagan in August 2019.

Nagan admitted it underpaid employees and improperly misclassified thousands of hours of work performed on federally funded projects in New York, the Justice Department said.

Nagan regularly submitted false certified payroll reports that misclassified thousands of hours of skilled work as laborer work, the DOJ said.

These projects included a renovation contract for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Delano Hall in Kings Point, and a Job Corps Center renovation contract in Bronx for the Department of Labor.

Yasti’s suit also resulted in a $396,000 settlement between Nagan and New York.

Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP represented Yasti. King & King LLP represented Nagan.

The case is United States ex rel. Yasti v. Nagan Constr., S.D.N.Y., No. 17-cv-7163, 3/18/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Seiden in Washington at dseiden@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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