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UVa whistleblower verdict reduced by $400,000

A University of Virginia researcher has been given a choice to have an $820,000 award cut nearly in half or proceed to a new trial on his claims that he was fired in retaliation for complaining about improper handling of federal grant money.

A federal jury in Charlottesville returned verdicts of nearly $160,000 in back pay and $500,000 in compensatory damages for Weihua Huang in October. The back pay award would be doubled under the whistleblower law.

U.S. District Judge Norman Moon Friday granted a defense motion to cut the compensatory damages award or order a new trial. Moon found the jury’s award was “not proportional to the actual injury” suffered by Huang.

Moon said Huang could accept $100,000 in place of the jury’s $500,000 award, or he could opt for a new trial. The university had urged reduction of the verdict to $10,000

Huang will accept the reduction, according to his lawyer Adam A. Carter of Washington.

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