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Borcik v. Crosby Tugs, LLC

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20128
Nos. 15-30435, (5th Cir., 07/19/2016)

The Fifth Circuit, in an unpublished opinion, directed the Louisiana Supreme Court to define the meaning of "good faith" as it pertains to an underlying whistleblower suit. A deckhand working for a tugboat company alleged he was repeatedly ordered to dump oil and otherwise violate environmental laws over a three-year period and was fired in retaliation for reporting those violations. Under Louisiana law, a whistleblower can only recover if he reported the violation in “good faith.” The case was tried to a jury, which was instructed that the employee lacked good faith if he “report[ed] [the violation] either to seek an unfair advantage or to try to harm his employer or another employee.” The jury found via special interrogatory that the deckhand did not report the violation in good faith, resulting in a defense verdict. The deckhand appealed, arguing that the court misinterpreted the statutory term "good faith." But because the Louisiana Supreme Court has not addressed the meaning of "good faith" and because other Louisiana courts have not provided enough guidance, the Fifth Circuit certified the question of the meaning of "good faith" to the Louisiana Supreme Court.