A lawsuit brought by Hanford whistleblower Walter Tamosaitis against Bechtel National was dismissed Tuesday.
Judge Craig Matheson of Benton County Superior Court dropped the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled.
Bechtel argued that the case should not go to trial because Tamosaitis could not show that Bechtel improperly interfered with his job at Bechtel's prime subcontractor, URS.
Jack Sheridan, Tamosaitis' attorney, said he will appeal.
The ruling does not affect a second case filed by Tamosaitis in U.S. District Court against URS and the Department of Energy.
However, the Superior Court case was Tamosaitis' last claim against Bechtel, said Frank Russo, Bechtel National director for the Hanford vitrification plant, in a memo to employees late Tuesday afternoon.
Tamosaitis, the former research and technology director at the vitrification plant, believes Bechtel wanted him off the project for raising concerns about the safe operations of the $12.2 billion plant.
The plant is scheduled to start treating high-level radioactive waste for disposal in 2019. The waste is left from the past production of weapons plutonium.
Bechtel and URS have denied that Tamosaitis was removed from the project for raising safety concerns.
However, the case was dismissed without addressing that allegation directly, although it continues to be at the center of the federal case.
In Superior Court, Tamosaitis did not show all the elements necessary to prove Bechtel's interference, said Suzanne Heaston, Bechtel spokeswoman, on Monday after the judge heard arguments from both sides.
The judge did not lay out his reasons for dismissing the case in the order available Tuesday.
"We may seek immediate review by the Washington State Supreme Court because these are really important and cutting-edge (issues) pertaining to whistleblowers," Sheridan said.
It's not unusual for such issues to be taken to a higher court, he said.
"We will be back in front of the judge within a year," he said.
Bechtel argued that Tamosaitis continues to be employed by URS and that Tamosaitis had not shown he suffered any economic damages.
Tamosaitis had been looking for another position at URS before he was removed from the vitrification plant project, and Bechtel was unaware of any promise made to him that he could remain at the plant until he retired, Bechtel argued.
Bechtel also said that it was not meddling as a third party in Tamosaitis' employment because it had "sweeping management authority over the project."
Tamosaitis was escorted off the project July 2 after showing up for a meeting he was told was to finalize details as part of a new assignment to head an Operations and Technology Group for the vitrification plant, he said in court documents.
He was told that Frank Russo, the Bechtel project director, wanted him off the project immediately, according to court documents filed by Tamosaitis' attorney.
Tamosaitis had sent an inappropriate email that angered a Department of Energy consultant, according to Bechtel.
Sheridan characterized the email as an attempt to get a nuclear safety issue addressed.
Sheridan argued that Bechtel does not have contract authority over all vitrification plant workers, and Tamosaitis was not designated a key employee over which Bechtel could exert control.
Although Tamosaitis continues to be employed by URS, he has had little work to do since summer 2010 and none of it with the level of responsibility, authority and budget he had at the vitrification plant, he said in a court document.
"Tamosaitis alleges that his reputation in the community and his reputation in the industry have been severely damaged by the defendants' actions, and that he will lose income and professional opportunities for the remainder of his work life owing to the defendants' actions," Sheridan said in a court document.
Russo said in the memo to employees that he appreciated workers remaining focused on their work "and we should also recognize that Walt Tamosaitis was a contributing member of our team for many years."
The judge awarded no attorney costs.
-- Annette Cary: 582-1533; firstname.lastname@example.org