$2 Million Dollar Verdict for Healthcare Whistleblower

Whistleblower claims in the healthcare industry are on the rise across the country.  Last week the Healthcare Employment Counsel blog reported on a New Jersey jury verdict of over $2 million to a medical lab technician who was terminated following a whistleblower complaint. The case, Doculan v. Bayonne Medical Center (No. HUD-L-6670-10), involved claims under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), a state whistleblower law with several health-specific components that generally bars employers from taking retaliatory action against an employee who makes a good-faith complaint regarding illegal employer conduct.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff was a hematology technician at a medical center who alleged that he had been terminated after complaining to upper management and human resources about improper blood bank staffing and management procedures. The plaintiff also complained about his supervisor’s alleged insufficient credentials to supervise the blood bank. The plaintiff further alleged the lab was not properly covered with appropriately skilled employees during all shifts, and that these practices were illegal under New Jersey law.
After a six-day trial in the Superior Court of New Jersey, on May 7, 2013, a unanimous eight-member jury awarded the plaintiff $80,640 in lost wages, $60,000 for pain and suffering, and $2 million in punitive damages.