Oil well worker claims company violated whistleblower act

Michelle Keahey Nov. 7, 2011, 3:54am

An oil well worker claims he was unjustly fired for reporting that his company was allegedly committing environmental and safety violations that could have resulted in an oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico.

Claiming his termination violated the Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Statute, Toney Mitchell filed suit against Morrison Energy Group and Abandonment Consulting Services (ACS) on Oct. 26 in federal court in New Orleans.

According to the lawsuit, on Aug. 6, Mitchell was notified that serious environmental and safety issues were being disregarded at a site contracted to the defendants for oversight. Mitchell contacted managers regarding the safety and environmental issues, he claims. He states he was told that if the workers could not do the job as directed, Morrison management could get off the job.

On Aug. 9, Mitchell sent an email detailing the environmental violations and how the breaches were allegedly increasing the potential for "environmental damage of an oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico" and the potential for personnel to be injured.

According to the lawsuit, three days later, defendant Morrison, directed by defendant ACS, terminated Mitchell.

Mitchell argues his termination was prohibited retaliation under the Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Statue and the Louisiana Whistleblower Act.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for back pay and front pay wages, mental anguish and depression, h humiliation and embarrassment, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses, interest, attorney's fees and court costs, and triple damages for lost wages, lost anticipated wages due to a wage increase, lost promotion and actual damages.

Mitchell is represented by New Orleans attorneys James L. Arruebarrena and Rachel Martin-Deckelmann. A jury trial is requested.
Case No. 2:11-cv-02675

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