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San Francisco-On the eve of trial, the University of California has agreed to pay nearly $1 million to a Livermore lab employee who says she was forced out after she helped uncover billing abuses. The $989,000 settlement left the university-run Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and ex-employee Michelle Doggett’s lawyers standing their ground. “They never did anything except . . . turned against her and slapped someone on the wrist,” Doggett’s Oakland, Calif., lawyer, J. Gary Gwilliam, said of the laboratory. Doggett’s and similar cases have increased congressional scrutiny of the university, he said. Case closure “It represents closure,” said Doggett, a 41-year-old former lab resource analyst. “I know what they did to me. I know that they continue to cover things up.” Spokeswoman Susan Houghton maintains that the lab did nothing wrong. “This represents moving on,” Houghton said. The lab values Doggett’s help in investigating misconduct, Houghton said, and “we didn’t retaliate against her.” A trial was to begin on Sept. 12. Doggett v. Regents of the University of California, No. 829369. A lab Web page said Doggett will get $561,000 and Gwilliam’s fees totaled $428,000. Gwilliam, a partner at Oakland’s Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer, said the latter figure is inflated because it included both costs and attorney fees. He declined to say what his firm’s fee is. Houghton said the lab spent $326,000 defending the 3-year-old suit. Doggett, who worked at the lab for 13 years, discovered billing abuses around 1995. She said workers billed time for projects that they didn’t work on and some subcontractors were paid for work that didn’t get done. She became an informant and helped the lab investigate. Her suit said lab officials eventually turned their backs on her, her part in the investigation was leaked to co-workers, she was given less work and she was forced to quit in 1999. The lab, represented by San Francisco’s Littler Mendelson and in-house attorney Gabriela Odell, denied that Doggett was mistreated. She said that the billing abuses ranged from a few thousand to several hundred thousand dollars, but Houghton has said that she helped reveal only about $40,000 in irregularities. The lab offered her a job a month before she sued, Houghton has said. The university has settled a dispute with another whistleblower who was fired after he uncovered financial abuse at a lab in Los Alamos, N.M. In August, it agreed to pay $930,000 to Glen Walp, an investigator whose firing led to a congressional investigation into the university’s management of the lab. The university has also been pressured by U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., to address the costs of lawsuits. The Recorder, a San Francisco-based newspaper and a sister publication of The National Law Journal, reported that the lab spent $6 million on litigation in 2002, 2 1/2 times what it spent a year earlier. Of that money, $4.6 million has been spent to fight Singleton v. Regents, a sex discrimination class action awaiting trial. The parties are also involved in intense mediation talks, said Johnson, an attorney at the Sturdevant Law Firm. Meanwhile, Gwilliam said that the controversy surrounding the lab may prod it into settling more cases. He said the U.S. Department of Justice, for example, interviewed Doggett within the past year about her case. Houghton said that the federal inquiry happened “years ago” and that the university settlements at the Los Alamos and Livermore labs were not related. “Each case is decided on its own merits,” Houghton said.

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