Road Ends For Whistleblower

The legal fight is over for Mark Howick, a roadie who took his whistleblower case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2002, according to Howick, he blew the whistle on transportation violations during the Olympic Torch Relay as trucks transported the Olympic Flame across the U.S. with sponsorship dollars from Chevrolet. The trek averaged a reported 250 miles a day, from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Howick said the road crew was run ragged, averaging four hours of sleep a night, didn’t keep logbooks and was forced to travel at unsafe speeds.

Likewise, Howick claims he was asked to drive a truck filled with propane tanks through the Lincoln Tunnel – not only against the law but an audacious request considering the heightened fears of the public during that year after 9/11.

Howick said he complained to his supervisor about these and other infractions, was reprimanded, then reported the violations to the Department of Transportation. He was eventually fired for insubordination, according to a representative for Chevrolet’s ad agency, Campbell-Ewald.

That set Howick off on a six-year legal quest to have his case heard. It never happened.

"The case was never heard on the merits so the true value of this case has never seen the light of day in the courtroom," Howick told Pollstar. "There was no attempt to have monetary gain here, just the right to be heard. The 14th Amendment: to have your day in court."

He had attorneys or represented himself (pro se), wrote and compiled hundreds of documents and set up his own Web site. His case wended through various federal agencies including the DOT Administrative Review Board, the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Campbell-Ewald was fined $3,000, but Howick says he’s been blacklisted from returning to the road.

Eventually, after filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Howick reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices declined to hear the cause, which happens to all but 1 percent of the cases submitted.

"According to my research, no pro se case has ever been heard in SCOTUS," Howick said.

Howick drove 18-wheelers for Elton John, The Rolling Stones’ Steel Wheels tour, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, the Vans Warped Tour and a host of other national gigs. Where is he headed from here?

"I really can’t answer that question," he said. "I can tell you one thing: I have little faith or trust in the judicial system based upon this experience."