James Stone, 82, a retired engineer who filed a federal whistle-blower lawsuit in 1989 that helped expose fraud at the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, died Wednesday in Englewood, Colo., after a short bout with pneumonia, his attorney said. Stone also suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
Shortly before his death the U.S. Supreme Court said he could not receive any of the damages that the plant's former operator owed to the government as a result of his lawsuit because he lacked "direct and independent knowledge of the information upon which his allegations were based."
Stone stood to collect as much as $1 million from the lawsuit he filed against Rockwell International, now part of aerospace giant Boeing Co., over problems with environmental cleanup at the now-closed plant northwest of Denver.
Stone worked at Rocky Flats from 1980 to 1986 and was the first Rocky Flats insider to contact the FBI with allegations of environmental crimes.
An investigation by the FBI and the Environmental Protection Agency led to a criminal case against Rockwell, which pleaded guilty to 10 environmental crimes and paid $18.5 million in fines.
Born in 1924, Stone was raised in a Catholic orphanage in St. Louis. Because of a hearing problem he could not serve in the military during World War II, and he became an engineer and worked in various jobs.