A federal jury in San Francisco took just three hours Monday to decide that Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. retaliated against former general counsel Sanford “Sandy” Wadler for reporting FCPA violations.
The jury awarded Wadler $2.9 million in back pay and stock compensation and $5 million for punitive damages. His lawyers at Kerr & Wagstaffe said the back pay damages will be doubled, resulting in a total award of $10.8 million.
He was fired by the California-based life science company in June 2013.
In November 2014, Bio-Rad paid $55 million to settle FCPA offenses. The DOJ and SEC alleged that subsidiaries made improper payments to foreign officials in Russia, Vietnam, and Thailand to win business.
Wadler alleged he was fired for reporting potential FCPA violations. He testified that he found documents showing the company was delivering free products to distributors in China.
According to the Reporter,
Jurors found that Wadler’s February 2013 report to the audit committee of the company’s board about his suspicions was protected whistleblower activity under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The jury also found that his whistleblowing activities were a significant reason the company fired him in June of that year.
Metadata showed that an unfavorable performance review of Wadler was created in July 2013, a month after his termination.
The company claimed at trial he was hostile and erratic and didn’t understand how Bio-Rad did business in China.
A review Wadler received in December 2012 was mostly positive.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.