Boeing whistleblower’s case could go on posthumously, attorney says

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A whistleblower and erstwhile Boeing inspector who died from an evident termination conscionable months earlier his yearslong lawsuit was coming to a caput could person his matter heard posthumously, a ineligible master said.

John Barnett, 62, of Louisiana, was recovered dormant Saturday successful nan parking batch of a Charleston, South Carolina, Holiday Inn “from what appears to beryllium a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” a region coroner said.

Barnett was successful municipality to springiness deposition grounds successful his national ineligible action against Boeing, pinch his case, which dates backmost to 2017, group to yet travel earlier an administrative rule judge this summer, according to his ineligible team.

Barnett's decease should not extremity nan claim, arsenic his property could beryllium substituted successful arsenic nan complainant, Washington, D.C., whistleblower lawyer Stephen Kohn said.

“He won’t beryllium capable to get reinstatement, but nan property should beryllium capable to get compensatory damages for nan accent that he suffered and backmost retirement,” Kohn said.


Boeing whistleblower who warned of Dreamliner information flaws recovered deadBoeing whistleblower John Barnett.Courtesy of nan Barnett family

For years, Barnett had alleged that Boeing retaliated against him for exposing imaginable information issues pinch nan 787 Dreamliner.

Under national whistleblower protections, aerial manufacture labor for illustration Barnett who judge they’ve been targeted for making concerns known are required to property their lawsuit done an administrative rule process known arsenic AIR21.

Boeing has denied it retaliated against Barnett, but it grounded successful 2022 to get nan plaintiff’s lawsuit tossed.

Barnett had alleged he was nan unfortunate of a “hostile activity situation and constructive discharge,” according to a May 31, 2022, ruling against nan institution by an administrative rule judge.  

Employers allegedly targeted Barnett pinch “downgraded capacity reviews” and “removal from investigations, denial of transfers, harassment/denigration” that each mightiness person amounted to a “constructive discharge,” nan ruling said.

In nan whistleblower community, nan AIR21 process has well-known advantages and disadvantages, compared to a authorities aliases national civilian lawsuit, according to nan attorney.

On 1 hand, administrative rule judges are good versed successful whistleblower law. On nan other, there’s a logjam of cases that support imaginable victims waiting for years.

“Delays, deficiency of resources, you could beryllium retired of activity and retired of a occupation for years,” Kohn said. “It’s very difficult to get lawyers. How tin you spend a lawyer erstwhile nan lawsuit goes connected and on?”

Barnett’s decease stunned his attorneys, who believed their customer was eager to yet coming this case.

“He was successful very bully spirits and really looking guardant to putting this shape of his life down him and moving on,” attorneys Brian Knowles and Robert Turkewitz said successful a associated connection connected Tuesday. “We didn’t spot immoderate denotation he would return his ain life. No 1 tin judge it.”

Knowles and Turkewitz said their client’s yearslong push showed really overmuch he believed successful nan case.

“John was a brave, honorable man of nan highest integrity. He cared dearly astir his family, his friends, nan Boeing company, his Boeing co-workers, and nan pilots and group who flew connected Boeing aircraft,” nan attorneys said. “We person seldom met personification pinch a much sincere and forthright character.”

They urged section constabulary to support investigating contempt nan coroner’s first ruling.

“We are each devastated,” nan ineligible squad said. “We request much accusation astir what happened to John. The Charleston constabulary request to analyse this afloat and accurately and show nan nationalist what they find out. No item tin beryllium near unturned.” 

Boeing officials said they were “saddened by Mr. Barnett’s passing,” but declined to reply further questions astir him aliases nan case.

If you aliases personification you cognize is successful crisis, telephone 988 to scope nan Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You tin besides telephone nan network, antecedently known arsenic nan National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, astatine 800-273-8255, matter HOME to 741741 aliases sojourn SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for further resources.

David K. Li

David K. Li is simply a elder breaking news newsman for NBC News Digital.

Cheyenne Darcy Amaya

contributed

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