7 Ex-Advocate employees get $10M+ in suit over physician attack, secret recordings

A jury awarded seven former Chicago-based Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center employees more than $10 million total for their lawsuit against the hospital over an attack against a female physician by a male peer and secret video surveillance of female staff using the restroom, an attorney representing the women told the Chicago Tribune.

Here are six things to know:

1. The seven women filed a joint lawsuit against the hospital in June, claiming AIMMC failed to act when the women reported violations of the hospital's written policies in two separate instances.

2. In one situation, former AIMMC anesthesiologist Caroline Ryan, MD, claimed she was choked and pushed by a male physician colleague while in a surgical care unit in July 2013. The lawsuit states that when Dr. Ryan reported the incident to hospital leadership, they told her to consider "dropping" the report despite reportedly being aware of the male physician's "long and documented" history of violent conduct, the report states.

3. In a second situation the following year, six female nurses and technicians discovered a hidden camera in the locker room and bathroom they used to change into and out of their work attire. The camera was reportedly placed inside a toilet by Robert Weiss, MD, an eye surgeon who owned and operated the Chicago Eye Institute, which maintained a location at AIMMC. Police arrested Dr. Weiss in July 2014, according to a previous Chicago Tribune report. He pleaded guilty to felony charges relating to the unlawful recordings in December 2015.

4. The women alleged in the complaint that despite knowing of Dr. Weiss' arrest, hospital officials delayed suspending his medical privileges at AIMMC.

5. On Sept. 5, a jury awarded $7 million in punitive damages to the women, along with $1,175,000 in compensatory damages, another attorney told the publication. Dr. Weiss was also ordered to pay the women approximately $2 million, according to the Chicago Tribune.

6. "With respect to this case, the physicians involved were not a part of our employed medical group and have not practiced at the medical center since 2014. Due to pending litigation, we are unable to offer further comment," an AIMMC spokesperson said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune, adding, "The safety and security of our patients and team members is our top priority."

To access the full report, click here.

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