Harrington v. Aggregate Indus., Inc., No. 11-1511 (1st Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
The "Big Dig" highway project, built largely with federal funds, has transformed vehicular travel in Boston. Defendant supplied concrete and, on occasion, secretly substituted substandard material for the concrete required by contract specifications. Certain employees, including plaintiff, learned of the deception and brought a sealed qui tam action under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733. The federal government intervened, and settled the case for several million dollars. Plaintiff received a percentage of the settlement. A few days after he signed the settlement, defendant dismissed plaintiff, allegedly for his refusal to take a drug test. Plaintiff sued, asserting pretext and retaliation. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer. The First Circuit vacated and remanded, applying a burden-shifting analysis and concluding that the circumstances of the firing are open to legitimate question and that the record, viewed as a whole and in the light most favorable to plaintiff, did not warrant the entry of summary judgment.