Week Adjourned: 8.27.10

Cookie-cutter Nurse, circa 1945 Top Class Actions

Care Doesn’t Discriminate? You would think that healthcare might be the one environment in which race would not be the priority. Not so, apparently. One of San Francisco’s biggest hospitals, Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), which also operates St. Luke’s Hospital, is facing a class action over allegations that it is engaged in systematic discrimination against the hiring of Filipino registered nurses. The suit, brought by the California Nurses Association (CNA), alleges contract violations in a systematic policy of discrimination.

The CNA held a press conference over the matter during which former nursing supervisors and nurses of CPMC spoke out about the discrimination they themselves had faced. The CNA have also made public data from a review they conducted which show that in early 2008 there was a major demographic shift among the nurses being hired at St Luke’s. “Before February 2008, 65% of St Luke’s RNs were Filipino. After February 2008, only 10% of RNs hired were Filipino,” the press releases states.

“St. Luke’s and CPMC RNs, many of them Filipino, have been outspoken in defense of their patients, and in opposition to Sutter and CPMC’s plans to reduce services to the largely lower income, minority community depending on St. Luke’s from SOMA to the Excelsior,” said CNA Co-president Zenei Cortez, RN.

“Rather than respond to the concerns of the community, CPMC and Sutter have chosen instead to retaliate by carrying out a punitive, illegal, and immoral campaign of discrimination,” said Cortez. “There can be no excuse for racial or ethnic discrimination. A hospital should be a center of therapeutic healing for patients, not a model of bigotry.”

Top Settlements

Continental Airlines Buffalo Crash. Continental Airlines settled two wrongful death suits this week. The suits were brought by the families of two people killed when Continental Airlines Connection Flight 3407 crashed outside Buffalo, New York, killing all 49 people aboard and one person on the ground. Remember that one?

The families of John G. Roberts III and Darren Tolsma claimed that corporate decisions caused Captain Marvin Renslow, 47, and co-pilot Rebecca Shaw, 24, to make a series of mistakes that caused the plane crash. Settlement terms are confidential. The families also sued Bombardier, maker of the Dash 8 Q400 plane. Several other suits are set to go to trial in March 2012 in federal court in Buffalo.

Asbestos Settlement in NJ. And, there was a rather large asbestos settlement this week—$7.5 million awarded to a woman who contracted asbestos mesothelioma from washing her husband’s work clothes for three decades. FYI—this is also called second hand or secondary asbestos exposure.

The settlement was upheld by a New Jersey appellate court, and had originally resulted from an earlier decision in the case of Bonnie Anderson vs. AJ Friedman Supply Co Inc. The court also awarded $500,000 for Mrs. Anderson’s husband, and prejudgment interest.

The Anderson’s alleged that Mrs. Anderson contracted mesothelioma from one or two sources of asbestos exposures: her own 12-year employment working at an Exxon refinery and from laundering her husband’s asbestos-laden work clothes during his employment with Exxon from 1969 to 2003, according to court records.

Ok. That’s it for this week. I hear the bar calling my name…

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