A Madison County jury ruled in favor of Anderson Hospital Friday in a nurse's lawsuit against the hospital and her former employer.
Plaintiff's attorney John Hopkins requested the jury award his client, Mary Pollard, a minimum of $495,000 during closing arguments in Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth's courtroom.
Pollard sued Anderson Hospital in 2008, alleging she was fired for complaining about the use of unrestrained hall beds at the hospital and for not going along with the orders from a consulting firm hired by Anderson Hospital.
Anderson's defense attorney told the jury Pollard was not fired.
"You can't fire yourself. You can't walk off from your job and say 'I'm fired'," Anderson defense attorney Wayne Skigen said.
According to Hopkins, Pollard was fired on April 9, 2008.
"She was fired for standing up for herself and for her patients," Hopkins said.
According to Pollard's testimony, she discovered Roxanne Tackett, a consultant for Compirion Healthcare Solutions, did not have a nursing license in Illinois. Tackett also passed orders down to the nurses, represented herself as a nurse and rendered hands-on emergency care to the patients in the ER. Pollard said.
Hopkins described Tackett as an "efficiency expert who had an Ohio RN license."
Skigen also told the jury that Pollard admitted on April 9, 2008, that no one told her to leave.
"She has to be accountable for the choices she has made," Skigen said. "Maybe she had a personality conflict with Roxanne Tackett. Maybe she wanted Trudy Jennings to be more nurturing."
Trudy Jennings was Pollard's supervisor.
"Maybe she was mad because Trudy Jennings didn't defend her as much as she'd like," Skigen said.
Also according to Skigen, Pollard admitted during her deposition that she was afraid she might come to a blow with Tackett.
"The hospital didn't want to do anything to hurt Mrs. Pollard," Skigen said. "What the hospital wanted was a more productive emergency department."
"She said, 'I'm considering this a firing.' Saying this is a firing doesn't turn into one."
Hopkins contended Pollard was a "great advocate" for her patients, that Pollard was upset after leaving Anderson.
"When you quit a job you hate, you don't become upset," Hopkins said. "She did not quit. She was absolutely fired."
Hopkins explained that people will turn a deaf ear to problems of safety in the workplace.
"Sometimes messages have to be loud," he said. "We're not asking for revenge. We're asking for justice."
The jury returned with a verdict at 4 p.m. after leaving to deliberate at 2 p.m.
After the verdict was read, plaintiff's attorney Mary Albert-Fritz shook Skigen's hand, but all left quietly from the courtroom.
"We're very disappointed," said Hopkins, who plans to file an appeal.
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