A federal jury in California yesterday reportedly awarded the former general counsel for Bio-Rad Laboratories (NYSE:BIO), Sanford Wadler, nearly $11 million in a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit Wadler brought against his former employer.
After a 3-hour deliberation, the jury in the U.S. District Court for Northern California awarded Sadler $2.9 million in back pay and stocks and $5 million in punitive damages; the back pay award is slated to be doubled, taking the total judgment to $10.8 million, according to The Recorder.
Wadler, who was general counsel and executive vice president when Bio-Rad sacked him in June 2013, alleged that he was fired right before the company was slated to present findings from its investigation into bribery in Russia, Thailand and Vietnam. Bio-Rad later agreed to a $55 million settlement with the U.S. Justice Dept. and the Securities & Exchange Commission, which found that it paid $7.5 million in bribes to drum up some $35 million in profits.
Although the SEC said that the company “self-reported its misconduct and extensively cooperated during the investigation,” Wadler alleged that the company stonewalled his efforts to uncover evidence of similar bribery in China. The jury found that a February 2013 report from Wadler, containing his suspicion of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations in the People’s Republic, was protected whistleblower activity and a significant reason for his firing later that year, the newspaper reported.
“I’m extraordinarily grateful to the jury for its very thoughtful verdict in finding that whistleblowers need protection,” lead plaintiff’s attorney James Wagstaffe told the paper. “You’re not supposed to fault whistleblowers for raising legitimate concerns about potential corruption.”
Lead defense attorney John Potter declined to comment, according to The Recorder.