PORTLAND, OR – Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center will pay millions after a jury agreed a nurse was fired wrongly after voicing out concerns about patient safety.
Registered nurse Linda Boly was awarded more than $3 million agreeing to the verdict that she was wrongfully terminated by her employer after she complained to management that their cost-cutting measures were jeopardizing patient care.
During the two-week trial in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Legacy contended that it fired Boly in June 2013 for poor job performance. But her attorney, Mick Seidl, said Boly’s 34-year career in nursing had a nearly spotless track record.
That all changed when she spoke up against management’s budget-driven time standards and cost-cutting steps were putting patients in danger.
Amidst cost-cutting measures, Legacy managers were getting bonuses for staying within budget. In 2013, year when Boly was fired, Legacy CEO Dr. George Brown received $340,000 bonus, on top of a base salary of about $960,000, according to Legacy’s tax records.
At around that time, hospital managers were also trying to reduce payroll on the nursing staff, and Boly was a prime target because she was the highest paid nurse in her unit with $88,000 in annual wages, Seidl said.
Boly said the hospital had a new set of standard for nurses, with quota of how many patients they should see in a day.
“I just have always had a long standing desire to help people,” Boly said. “I was just frustrated with Legacy. They have the right tools to do the right thing, and they choose not to do it.”
Seidl said the plan that saved the hospital time and money, is nothing but putting patients in danger.
When Boly voiced out her concerns, Seidl said managers at Legacy responded, but not by addressing the problem.
Instead, court records show they started an email chain about how to get rid of the nurse who’d worked at their hospital for 34 years.
“Legacy’s behavior in this case was shameful,” Seidl said.
In a statement, a spokespersons for Legacy wrote, “Legacy Health wholeheartedly disagrees with the verdict as it completely misinterprets Legacy’s commitment to quality patient care.”
Friday, the 12-person jury awarded Boly $916,000 in lost wages, computed through a retirement age of 67, $625,000 for emotional distress, and $1.5 million in punitive damages. Under Oregon law, 70 percent of the $1.5 million in punitive damages will go to the state.
Boly hopes the verdict spoke loudly enough that it will resound to hospital administrators and change their policies.
She is now a now a nurse at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.