Trial continues in oil spill whistleblower case

By Amelia Flood | Jan 14, 2010

The trial of a deckhand's suit against his former employer stemming from an oil spill three years ago in the Mississippi River will continue into Friday.

Plaintiff Steven Howland is suing American River Transportation Company and its parent, Archer-Daniel-Midland, for allegedly firing him after he reported the company's intentional oil dumping into the Mississippi River in 2007.

He rested his case at 4 p.m. Thursday as the defense opened with its first witness.

The trial will continue Friday morning at 9 a.m.

Howland, of Glen Carbon, is seeking reinstatement to his job, an order enjoining the company from disciplining employees who report wrongdoing, damages in excess of $50,000 and punitive damages.

The company contends he was fired for falsifying reports and had been written up for tardiness.

Howland and his wife testified during the mid and late afternoon.

Steven Howland testified under cross examination that he had never been told to lie or do anything improper by his employers.

Under questioning by his attorney, Howland said that he had been asked what he would say to investigators from state and federal agencies by his boss about the 2007 oil spill.

He claims he was fired after telling his boss he would "tell the truth."

Howland's wife testified that her husband cannot read or write and does not have a high school education.

She said he was in tears after losing his job although he gained employment shortly after at a different company.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder presides.

The trial began Tuesday after a day-long jury selection on Monday.

Howland is represented by Lee Barron.

The defendants are represented by Timothy Wolfe and others.

The case is Madison case number 08-L-500.

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