Yetter Coleman defended a major hospital system by winning a take-nothing jury verdict in Houston state court, in connection with an alleged whistle-blower suit brought by the former Medical Director of the hospital’s Pre-Operative Clinic.
The plaintiff, a well-credentialed anesthesiologist, sued the hospital for retaliatory discharge for alleged reporting instances of patient safety violations. In one of the first trials under a Texas law prohibiting retaliation against non-hospital employees (the plaintiff was employed by a separate but affiliated physician organization), the plaintiff sought damages of $7 million in back and front pay, plus unspecified mental anguish damages and exemplary damages.
After a two-week trial, the jury found no retaliation, confirming the hospital’s position that the plaintiff was terminated for valid, long-standing performance reasons, involving the Clinic’s lack of improved operations, rather than for reporting alleged safety violations, the occurrence of which the hospital vigorously denied. The jury returned its verdict within hours after closing arguments.