Court Dismisses Case Against Federal Supervisors and Private Attorney

A former federal attorney filed a lawsuit against her former attorney and Justice Department supervisors. The case was dismissed.

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has thrown out a lawsuit filed by a former Department of Justice attorney against her DOJ supervisors in their personal capacity as well as against the private employment attorney who previously represented Ms. Weaver in her case against the government. (Weaver v. Bratt, et al., U.S.D.C.D.C. Civil Action No. 00-01099 (RCL), Memorandum Opinion 3/15/06)

Jean Weaver was employed in the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division. She disclosed to higher level officials “what she perceived as her supervisors’ fraudulent activities” in connection with the Voluntary Disclosure Program on which she worked.

She claims that her supervisors retaliated against her by giving her poor performance evaluations, searching her office and computer, reprimands, transfers and lockouts from her office. Ms. Weaver engaged a private attorney, Michael Kator, to represent her in her dispute with DOJ. He negotiated the terms of a settlement agreement, but by the time Ms. Weaver signed it, she had dismissed Mr. Kator as her attorney. (Opinion p. 3)

The agreement provided that Ms. Weaver would resign and she agreed not to file any claims against the Department. In return, the Department agreed to withdraw negative performance evaluations and also expunge the reprimand from her record, increase her salary, detail her to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for at least 410 days. (Opinion p 4) There was no guarantee that she would be employed beyond that time.

Once she was out of a job at DOJ, Ms. Weaver filed suit against her former supervisors and her former attorney.

She persuaded the court to place the proceedings under seal. Ms. Weaver raised several grounds for her suit, including constitutional tort and duress, in an effort to set aside the settlement agreement.

The District Court has now granted the Defendants Motions to Dismiss, which has the effect of throwing Ms. Weaver’s case out. The court found that Ms. Weaver failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. At the same time, Judge Lamberth lifted the seal, so that this case now sees the light of day for the first time.

About the Author

Susan McGuire Smith spent most of her federal legal career with NASA, serving as Chief Counsel at Marshall Space Flight Center for 14 years. Her expertise is in government contracts, ethics, and personnel law.