Full Resume for Attorney Mick Harrison
Mick Harrison, Esq.
520 S. Walnut St., #1147
Bloomington, IN 47402
1988–1991, University of the District of Columbia School of Law, J.D., summa cum laude.
Leader of the DCSL Jessup International Law Moot Court team; Awarded two Dean’s Cups for distinguished service; Member of the Law Review Board of Editors; 4 semesters of clinic work on environmental and whistleblower cases with the Government Accountability Project (GAP).
1977-79, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
M.S. Degree, Masters and Doctoral Course Work, Education, Curriculum and Instruction.
Mathematics Teaching Certification, Advanced course work towards doctorate in education, curriculum and instruction, graduate courses in group processes, group facilitation, and leadership skills.
1971-1975, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN (4th Year), University of Chicago (3rd year), Franklin College (1st 2 years)
B.A. Degree, , Individualized Major, Government & Educational Accountability
State: Supreme Court of Penn. (PA Bar # 65002)
Federal: U. S. Courts of Appeal for the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, District of Columbia, and Federal Circuits.
U.S. District Courts: Southern District of Indiana
Current federal pro hac vice admissions: District of Columbia; M.Dist. N.C.
Current state pro hac vice admissions: Illinois
Prior federal pro hac vice admissions: Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah
Prior state pro hac vice admissions: California, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia,
Federal administrative agency practice: U.S. Dept. of Labor (whistleblower); U.S. Dept. of Interior (surface mining and Native American issues)
WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION CASES
Attorney Harrison has represented, and is currently representing and advising, a number of whistleblowers in employment discrimination/retaliation litigation before the U.S. Department of Labor and the federal appeals courts. Attorney Harrison has maintained a national whistleblower protection practice during his employment as a staff attorney at the Government Accountability Project in Washington, D.C. (1990-1995) and thereafter in private practice (1995-present), including a number of high profile cases across a wide spectrum of subject areas and issues including Sarbanes-Oxley (securities fraud), federal false claims, environmental protection, environmental justice/racism (African American and Hispanic), worker safety, rights of members of the military, national security, torture, terrorism-9/11, chemical and biological weapons, nuclear energy/weapons, Native American rights, and health care fraud. Selected noteworthy whistleblower cases litigated by Attorney Harrison are summarized in the case notes infra. Attorney Harrison’s success rate in his whistleblower cases (settlement or court award) has been greater than 90%.
FALSE CLAIMS ACT QUI TAM LITIGATION
Attorney Harrison has represented, and is currently representing and advising, a number of whistleblowers, including doctors and nurses, in False Claims Act qui tam cases involving suits to recover millions of dollars for the federal treasury taken under false pretenses by corporations and government contractors, including medical institutions. Two of Attorney Harrison’s qui tam cases were settled.
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS CASES
Attorney Harrison’s cases, including his whistleblower cases, occasionally involve litigation of First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and/or Fifth Amendment claims or issues. Attorney Harrison currently has a constitutional rights case pending before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment issues pre-appeal decision, and Fourth and Fifth Amendment issues now on remand).
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT ADVOCACY AND LITIGATION
Attorney Harrison has assisted a number of citizens and groups in submitting FOIA requests over the years and is currently litigating a FOIA enforcement suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
CLASS ACTION LITIGATION
Attorney Harrison has also co-counseled and settled several class action cases along with co-counsel protecting workers’ rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
ENVIRONMENTAL CITIZEN SUITS
Attorney Harrison has represented, and is currently representing and advising, national, state, and local environmental and citizens’ groups in environmental protection litigation and advocacy, including environmental challenges under the Administrative Procedures Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Surface Mining Reclamation and Control Act, the Superfund statute (CERCLA), and the resource Conservation and Recovery Act (solid and hazardous waste issues). Selected noteworthy environmental cases litigated by Attorney Harrison are summarized in the case notes infra.
OTHER RELEVANT EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS
Certified Teacher of Mathematics
Math teaching experience from 1976-1988
College & High School
Calculus, Statistics, Trig, Business Math, Algebra, Geometry
NOTEWORTHY PUBLIC INTEREST CASES LITIGATED BY MICK HARRISON
Whistleblower Protection Cases
The head of EPA’s criminal enforcement counsel division was removed from his position and placed in a do-nothing job after disclosing to Congressman John Dingell’s subcommittee EPA enforcement case files documenting political interference to prevent or undercut environmental crime prosecutions nationwide. Attorney Harrison, with GAP co-counsel, after aggressive discovery and investigation, successfully negotiated a settlement. The case also established good legal precedent on the right of government whistleblowers to subpoena and depose high level federal officials such as an Assistant Attorney General.
Attorney Harrison, together with co-counsel, litigated a whistleblower case before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) on behalf of the (first female) Chief of the United States Park Police, who was fired by the National Park Service after she disclosed to the Washington Post that the Bush administration was not providing adequate funding to protect the national monuments, parks and parkways or their visitors. This was a case where the client had chosen to transition to new counsel and Attorney Harrison had to hit the ground running and conduct a rapid but thorough fact investigation. The investigation included several depositions of high ranking federal agency officials, including a Deputy Secretary of the Interior and the agency’s financial officer. The investigation disclosed several examples of egregious agency misconduct and procedural violations. The MSPB Administrative Judge (AJ) issued a clearly erroneous initial decision against the Chief which Attorney Harrison and co-counsel appealed to the MSPB. The Board, also clearly in error, sustained the AJ’s initial decision in large part, although one of the three Board members issued a thorough and persuasive dissenting opinion in the Chief’s favor. The majority Board decision was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. An Amicus brief was filed by a large federal employee union in favor of the Chief’s position. The Federal Circuit reversed the MSPB and remanded, twice. The Chief eventually prevailed and was reinstated as the Chief of the U.S. Park Police.
Attorney Harrison with co-counsel currently represents an EPA Senior Scientist in her whistleblower retaliation lawsuits before both the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. The scientist was fired by EPA in violation of her due process rights and in retaliation for her federally protected whistleblowing regarding the dangers posed by the 9/11 World Trade Center toxic dust that has caused the death and illness of thousands of first responders and residents. Attorney Harrison and co-counsel have successfully litigated both a MSPB and DOL whistleblower case for this scientist, obtaining orders requiring EPA to reinstate her, including an order sanctioning EPA for discovery abuses during the litigation. The MSPB decision is final. The DOL case is pending before the DOL Administrative Review Board.
Attorney Harrison successfully litigated, in partnership with co-counsel a whistleblower case on behalf of a U.S. Bureau of Land Management whistleblower. This whistleblower was fired after publicly exposing the existence of significant radioactive contamination at the Yerington Nevada Anaconda copper mine site. Again after extensive discovery and depositions of high level agency officials, including the Nevada State Director of BLM, Attorney Harrison obtained proof of the agency’s retaliation and political interference with and influence on the agency’s decisions regarding the whistleblower and the cleanup of the Yerington Mine by outside parties, including county commissioners and a congressman. Attorney Harrison tried the case before the DOL. A recommended decision was issued by the trial administrative judge in favor of the whistleblower. The judge found that the agency had retaliated against the whistleblower because of his protected whistleblowing and ordered the agency to provide him most of the relief appropriate under his circumstances. The agency appealed to the DOL Administrative Review Board (ARB). The ARB sustained the ALJ decision in the whistleblower’s favor and the BLM did not appeal.
Attorney Harrison successfully litigated and settled a whistleblower case for a U.S. Fish & Wildlife scientist, together with co-counsel, regarding the knowing and politically influenced failure of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to comply with the federal Endangered Species Act and protect the endangered Florida Panther. The aggressive and extensive discovery and investigative efforts of co-counsel and Attorney Harrison led to development of very incriminating evidence against the agency managers involved in the decision to terminate the employment of this whistleblower (and the agency managers’ decisions to not comply with federal law). After extensive document discovery and several depositions of agency managers, the agency entered MSPB mediation and settled the case, which included reinstating the whistleblower to the U.S. F&WS.
Attorney Harrison obtained one of the largest damages awards ever in an environmental whistle-blower trial on behalf of an Army chemist whistleblower in a case against U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground. Following what may have been a record breaking twelve-week whistleblower trial, the trial judge awarded the whistleblower, $1.8 Million in damages and attorney fees. During the aggressively litigated twelve-week trial, Attorney Harrison, who was allowed by the judge to conduct some discovery during the trial due to the whistleblower’s prior and continuing health problems, developed extensive evidence that the whistleblower had been subjected to a pattern of harassment and retaliation because he had exposed numerous serious violations of law and procedure by Army managers regarding chemical warfare agent and hazardous wastes. The evidence developed included documentary evidence and corroborated testimony that there had been improper cleanup of chemical agent contaminated sites, that the Army issued gas masks to troops in the Gulf War which were known to be defective (silicone rubber material allowed agent penetration), and the Army instructed whistleblowers who raised this concern to remain silent because disclosure would “hurt morale.” Unfortunately this very favorable decision was reversed on appeal by the then newly appointed DOL Administrative Review Board, and the Tenth Circuit declined to reverse the final agency decision based largely on a Supreme Court decision that is being misread to state that if a security clearance decision is involved in the agency employment decisions, that reviewing courts are not allowed to even inquire into whether the security clearance decision may have been the result of illegal retaliation or discrimination.
Attorney Harrison, together with co-counsel, represented the then Head of Virginia’s Superfund program, who exposed mishandling of Superfund hazardous waste disposal sites cleanups by the State of Virginia. The extensive investigative, discovery and advocacy efforts of Attorney Harrison and co-counsel, along with those of the whistleblower herself, resulted in a media expose (extensive media coverage including excellent political cartoons), a $160,000 fine imposed on the State of Virginia by U.S. EPA, an EPA order to the State of Virginia to perform a multi-million dollar cleanup of State property, resignation of the Director of the Department of Waste Management, and the whistleblower’s receipt of the Cavallo award for moral courage.
Attorney Harrison with co-counsel successfully represented the President and Vice President of the EPA headquarters scientists & professionals union and other NFFE Union officials in their efforts to expose the politicization of science in U.S. EPA without being terminated (in retaliation) from their federal employment.
Attorney Harrison successfully litigated and settled the whistleblower retaliation cases of two U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management scientists, one a mining engineer and one a geologist. Both were retaliated against for blowing the whistle on illegal federal land exchanges wherein the BLM was proposing to, and in some cases did, exchange federal lands containing millions of dollars of valuable minerals and standing timber for at best comparatively worthless private lands that had been timbered, mined, and in some cases contaminated.
Attorney Harrison recently won a precedent setting appeal in an environmental whistleblower case for a chemical weapons disposal whistleblower who worked at the Army’s chemical weapons disposal facility in Tooele, Utah until he was fired in retaliation for disclosing environmental violations and related health risks to OSHA. The Department of Labor Administrative Review Board (ARB) decided the whistleblower’s appeal in his favor finding that his disclosures to OSHA, even though they concerned worker safety in some respects, were nonetheless protected from retaliation by the employee protection provisions of the federal environmental statutes. The case was subsequently settled.
Attorney Harrison successfully represented a securities fraud whistleblower in a Sarbanes Oxley Act whistleblower retaliation case against a large casino/hotel company. The Department of Labor ordered the company to reinstate the whistleblower pending the outcome of her trial. The matter was subsequently resolved.
Environmental Citizen Suits
Attorney Harrison has litigated several cases regarding environmental violations and dangers at the Army’s Tooele, Utah chemical weapons incinerator including citizen law enforcement cases for CWWG and Sierra Club as well as whistleblower cases for a hazardous waste manager, an environmental permitting manager, a safety manager, a chemist, and a chemical agent air monitoring manager. Attorney Harrison’s investigative and advocacy efforts have been extensive in these cases, and in highly technical areas involving health risks and environmental impacts where Attorney Harrison’s background as a teacher of mathematics has been useful. These investigations and advocacy efforts have prompted numerous corrective actions and safety improvements, and led to considerable media coverage. Attorney Harrison has been co-leader of a multi-year eight-state litigation and advocacy effort for the CWWG, Sierra Club and allied groups, involving media, legislation, direct action, public education, whistleblower support, negotiation and federal and state litigation which resulted in the Army abandoning plans for unsafe chemical weapons incinerators in Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, and Maryland in favor of safer modern alternative technologies acceptable to those (4 of 8) affected communities.
Most of Attorney Harrison’s cases involve large corporations and government agencies as adversaries. In these cases, Attorney Harrison has had notable achievements notwithstanding the considerable resource advantages of these large corporate and agency adversaries. These successes include two cases in which the litigation resulted in the permanent shutdown of unsafe and illegally operated hazardous waste incineration facilities (the ThermalKEM incinerator in South Carolina, and the Vertac agent orange incinerator in Arkansas, more details below). In addition, temporary injunctions against the illegal and dangerous operation of other hazardous waste incinerators operated by large corporations were obtained in other cases (e.g., the WTI hazardous waste incinerator East Liverpool, Ohio case, and the Drake Chemical Superfund “cleanup” case in Pennsylvania). Attorney Harrison’s investigations and advocacy, with co-counsel, have also resulted in preventing other dangerous multi-million dollar incinerators from being built (e.g., a medical waste incinerator that the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland cancelled, and a PCB incinerator proposed for Bloomington, Indiana that was abandoned after years of citizen opposition).
Attorney Harrison with co-counsel represented citizen’s groups and the Vietnam Veterans of America, and worked closely with a senior Greenpeace scientist, in a federal lawsuit against U.S. EPA and a government contractor. The case, referenced above, involved the Vertac Superfund site and an agent orange incinerator in Arkansas operated under contract with the U.S. EPA. Attorney Harrison assisted his clients and colleagues in obtaining a TRO and a preliminary injunction from the federal District Court and in prompting the Arkansas Attorney General (AAG) to initiate an investigation, and worked closely with the AAG in arranging for the sworn testimony before the AAG of multiple (whistleblower) witnesses (then- current and former employees of the government contractor operating the facility). Attorney Harrison assisted his clients and colleagues in exposing numerous violations of federal laws, causing EPA to shut down the incinerator before it burned highly dioxin contaminated 2,4,5-T waste. This case also involved extensive media coverage including excellent political cartoons.
Attorney Harrison represented, together with co-counsel, citizens appealing the permits issued for the ThermalKEM hazardous waste incinerator, a case referenced above. The incinerator was located 100 feet from a Baptist Church in Rock Hill, SC. A several month intense legal battle ensued that again required extensive investigatory and discovery efforts by counsel, involved whistleblower disclosures, a manager pleading the Fifth Amendment, and evidence of the defendant company’s cover-up of incidents and material facts, including details of an uncontrolled hazardous waste fire which forced evacuation of a neighboring business. During the litigation, the company closed its facilities in Rock Hill, and nationwide, before the judge issued the trial decision.
Attorney Harrison represented Greenpeace in a federal lawsuit, referenced above, against Waste Technologies, Inc. (WTI), a large hazardous waste company, and against the U.S. EPA to stop operation of a large hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio located 1100 feet from an elementary school. Attorney Harrison and colleagues obtained a TRO and a preliminary and permanent injunction from the District Court based on evidence uncovered that had been concealed by EPA which proved that the danger posed to public health from incinerator emitted dioxin that would accumulate in the food chain was 1,000 times greater than the risk that EPA had publicly admitted. This litigation forced a positive change in EPA risk assessment policy which had theretofore focused only on inhalation exposures, requiring future risk assessments to address risk of toxic chemical exposure via the food chain. The case was the subject of extensive media including stories in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and CBS’ 60 Minutes program (one of the plaintiffs was featured). The Court of Appeals eventually reversed the injunction on procedural grounds, holding that a permit appeal rather than a citizen suit would have to be used to challenge the hazardous waste facility permit. This was an evolving area of environmental law at the time and the legally required procedure and applicable legal standards had yet to be clearly established by the federal Courts of Appeal when the District Court issued the injunctions based on the dangers to the public.
Attorney Harrison successfully litigated, again with co-counsel, on behalf of the National Sierra Club, an Army chemical weapons incinerator permit appeal in Oregon. The Multnomah Circuit Court remanded the facility permit back to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) for a Best Available Technology review and determination for mercury contaminated mustard agent waste and for analysis of whether incineration of dunnage waste streams including contaminated plastic protective suits would cause major adverse impacts on public health or the environment (including via dioxin emissions), and required inclusion in the permit of a whistleblower protection provision.
Attorney Harrison was lead counsel for citizen plaintiffs in Frey v. U.S. EPA in a complex federal litigation against Westinghouse/CBS/VIACOM and U.S. EPA regarding a failed Superfund cleanup in Indiana. Multiple motions to dismiss by EPA and VIACOM (formerly Westinghouse) were defeated and twice Counsel Harrison prevailed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in appeals on procedural and statutory interpretation issues, and set positive legal precedent for citizens in the process. The case was recently decided against the plaintiffs by the Seventh Circuit on the third appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the matter.
Attorney Harrison has represented traditional Navajo residents (Dine’) of Arizona in coal mining permit appeals before the federal Office of Surface Mining, versus Peabody Coal. The cases involved alleged violations of SMCRA, the federal mining law, and issues involving water and air pollution, and destruction of historic, archeological, and sacred sites. In the first appeal the permit was invalidated by the Administrative Judge on a motion for summary judgment filed by counsel for a co-plaintiff. In the second appeal, most co-plaintiffs settled and Attorney Harrison’s clients appealed the ALJ’s decision that their claims should not go to trial, which appeal is pending before the Dept. of Interior Board of Land Appeals.
Attorney Harrison over the last few years has represented citizen groups in Florida and Georgia and advised and consulted with Indiana citizen groups and their local counsel opposing five biomass incinerators proposed in those states. The results from these efforts are three of the five incinerator proposals have been abandoned, and the two other of these five litigations were settled with substantial benefits for the citizen groups.
Attorney Harrison was lead counsel for Save the Ozarks (STO) a non-profit public interest group in Arkansas in a successful lawsuit before the Arkansas Public Service Commission to stop a proposed new large electric power transmission line intended to be built through the pristine Ozarks environment. After hearing in the matter the Commission required the applicant Southwest Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) to submit additional justification for the need for the project and in response SWEPCO decided to withdraw its application.
Attorney Harrison is currently lead counsel for citizen groups in Bloomington, Indiana challenging via federal court litigation the Federal Highway Administration’s proposed four billion dollar interstate highway I-69 Southern Indiana expansion. This litigation involves alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Environmental policy Act, and the National Transportation Act. In this case, as in all of these citizen law enforcement cases, discovery efforts and extensive investigations by Attorney Harrison have been instrumental in allowing the clients to put forward well documented factually persuasive arguments in technical areas. The District Court ruled against the Plaintiffs notwithstanding evidence that the agency defendants had committed a fraud regarding Clean Air Act and NEPA compliance. The case is currently before the Supreme Court on a petition for certiorari after an unfavorable decision from the 7th Circuit.
Attorney Harrison’s practice has involved extensive federal district court and federal court of appeals work, extensive discovery and motions practice, and litigation of virtually every conceivable technical and procedural defense used by agencies and corporations. Attorney Harrison’s practice has also involved frequent examination of both friendly and hostile expert witnesses.