Federal Contracting News

Lockheed Martin Retaliation Suit Properly Barred, Fifth Circuit Says

April 19, 2019, 1:39 PM

Lockheed Martin Corp. convinced a federal appeals court to affirm the rejection of claims it retaliated against two former employees for their disclosures about potential fraud under a NASA contract.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed in a nonprecedential opinion that the doctrine of res judicata barred the claims. Res judicata bars all claims a plaintiff brought or could have brought in a prior suit that ended in a court’s final judgment.

The lower court, which granted Lockheed Martin summary judgment, properly applied a transactional test to find that the retaliation claims arose out of the same nucleus of operative facts of the whistleblowers’ previous actions.

The prior actions raised race discrimination and defamation claims.

The whistleblowers alleged Lockheed Martin terminated their jobs at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi because they reported to their supervisor cost overruns and safety concerns involving a NASA test operations contract.

Judges Jerry E. Smith, Jacques L. Wiener Jr., and Don R. Willett joined in the per curiam opinion.

Smith Law Firm represented the whistleblowers. Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C. represented Lockheed Martin.

The case is Javery v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 5th Cir., No. 18-31049, unpublished 4/18/19.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com

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