Court of Appeals upholds verdict for nursing home Whistleblower; Saad dissents, of course
Elizabeth Williamson sued her employer, Ciena Health Care Management, after she was terminated for cooperating with a state investigation of the nursing home where she served as the supervisor of respiratory therapists. Two residents of the Omni home had registered complaints related to apparent negligence that resulted in at least one death. Regulators were concerned and scheduled an inspection. Management was hotile to the investigation and took measures to limit employee cooperation. The investigation found serious problems with nursing care in the facility during the audit. Williamson left for a two-week vacation right after the audit and was terminated when she returned to work.
The Omni management claimed she was terminated for negligence in her own department and not in retaliation for cooperating (as required by law) with the investigation. Williamson sued under the Whistleblower Protection Act, and despite the fact that no one was terminated for the far more serious defects in nursing care, and the fact that Williamson s alleged errors were minimal, and despite the fact that Omni disposed of the charting records that would have supported or refuted Williamson's competency, Omni continued to claim that the timing of her termination was "coincidental" and not motivated by retaliation.
The jury didn't believe the Defendants and awarded a verdict to Williamson. The Court of Appeals majority upheld the verdict, finding ample foundation for the Plaintiff's allegations and the jury's result. Insurance and corporate apologist Henry Saad would have overturned the verdict because "many employees cooperated in the state investigation and none were...retaliated against by defendant." Of course, none of them were fired on a pretext either. If Judge Saad had his way, he would be the jury and fact-finder on all claims and do away with the constitutional right to a jury trial entirely, apparently.