Hope man’s NCIS whistle-blower case moved to federal court

Posted Jan. 31, 2012, at 6:35 p.m.

HOPE, Maine — A lawsuit filed by a Hope man, who claims he was fired after reporting to Navy investigators that his employer was illegally selling technology to China, has been moved to the U.S. District Court system.

Eric Stephen Levitt filed his lawsuit Nov. 21 in Knox County Superior Court against Sonardyne Inc. and Sonardyne International Ltd. The main company is based in the United Kingdom, with U.S. headquarters in Houston.

Levitt claims in the lawsuit that he was hired in 2008 to work in the company’s Camden office as the business development manager to sell a diver detection program to the U.S. Navy.

Levitt said he became aware that Sonardyne was selling diver detection technology equipment to Chinese companies affiliated with the People’s Republic of China.

Levitt said in August 2010 he reported his concerns to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and cooperated with NCIS through September.

In October, he said he was fired in retaliation for his internal complaints and complaints to NCIS, his lawsuit claims.

The firing was a violation of the state’s whistle-blower and human rights laws, the lawsuit notes. He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as back pay, reinstatement and attorneys’ fees.

The case was transferred to U.S. District Court in Portland at the request of Sonardyne. The company notes that the company and former employee reside in different states, which allows the case to be moved to the federal court system.

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