Nurse alleges termination for reporting 'unsafe conditions' at PVH

By Lawrence Smith | Mar 13, 2008

POINT PLEASANT – An Ohio woman alleges she was wrongfully terminated from a Mason County hospital following a complaint she made to regulators concerning the facility's "unsafe staffing conditions."

On Feb. 26, Alma Jewell Arrowood, a resident of Jackson County, Ohio, filed suit against Pleasant Valley Hospital. In her complaint and suit, filed with the assistance of Tom Price, with the Charleston law firm of Holroyd and Yost, and Lia DiTrapano Fairless, with the DiTrapano Law Firm, Arrowood, a nurse, alleges that in October 2007 she was assigned "an excessive number of patients" in violation of state law.

"Plaintiff informed her unit manager that she was concerned about the lack of compliance with regulations imposed by the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification of the State of West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau of Public Health," said Price in the complaint.

According to court records, Arrowood "informed her unit manager, a supervising employee of Defendant, that the working conditions were unsafe." Upon sharing her concerns with her supervisor, Arrowood was suspended, and later terminated.

"Plaintiff was suspended after informing her unit manager that she was advising the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification about her concerns regarding the unsafe staffing conditions at Defendant's hospital," Price said.

"After confirming that Plaintiff had contacted the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Defendant, willfully, wantonly and maliciously terminated the Plaintiff."

Arrowood's termination, Price alleges, resulted in a "loss of income and benefits and has caused Plaintiff to suffer severe psychological injuries." As compensation for her loss, Arrowood is asking not only to be reinstated with "back pay wages, front pay wages and fringe benefits due and owing with pre-judgment and post-judgment interest thereon," but also "compensatory damages in an amount to be determined a trial for the severe emotional distress, humiliation, anxiety, embarrassment, depression, aggravation, annoyance, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life…"

Also, Price asked "this Court enter a permanent injunction against Defendants, ordering them to cease and desist from their current unlawful behavior."

The case has been assigned to Mason Circuit Judge David W. Nibert.

Mason Circuit Court Case No. 08-C-33

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