Jury trial granted to fired Amgen whistleblower

Darrell G. Dotson of Newbury Park will have his day in court and bypass Amgen's arbitration process, ruled Ventura County Superior Court judge, Henry Walsh. 

Amgen fired the former patent lawyer last year and Dotson is seeking compensation, as he says the firing was due to his whistleblower activities. He reported what he thought were "legal and ethical improprieties" to an internal investigator at thethe company and Amgen fired him just two weeks later, according to his attorney.

The plaintiff hopes that a jury trial will ultimately be more financially lucrative than going through Amgen's arbitration process. The judge agreed with Dotson that the restrictions the company placed on the arbitration gave the company an unfair advantage. It remains unclear if Amgen will try to appeal Judge Walsh's decision.

This isn't the first wrongful termination suit against Amgen, and this ruling potentially opens the door for other employees to have their cases heard in court. Rob Henning, Dotson's attorney, said that a recent study "showed that more than 80 percent of cases heard in arbitration by the American Arbitration Association resulted in no verdict for employees," adding, "Those are horrible odds. You're more likely to prevail in court. And typically, when you do prevail in arbitration, you get a much lower verdict."

Amgen representative David Polk said, "Dotson's claims are without merit and we will defend against them vigorously. Beyond that, we have no comment on this litigation." Dotson was originally a legal liaison for Amgen in a major lawsuit against Roche. Amgen hired him in 2004.

- read the LA Times story 
- here's the Pharmalot blog entry