Nurse awarded $28M in retaliation suit against Brigham and Women's Hospital

A jury awarded a Haitian-American nurse $28 million May 23 in a lawsuit against Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital alleging discrimination and retaliation, according to the The Boston Globe.

Gessy Toussaint, RN, sued Brigham and Women's and three of its managers in 2014. Ms. Toussaint alleged she stuck up for another Haitian-American nurse who she believed was the victim of verbal abuse by a physician. After that, the hospital allegedly retaliated against Ms. Toussaint by investigating her for several instances of allegedly poor patient care. Ms. Toussaint further claimed she was subjected to discriminatory action by the hospital, according to the report.

Ms. Toussaint resigned from Brigham and Women's in 2015 after working there for 15 years.

On May 23, after more than three days of deliberation, a Suffolk Superior Court jury agreed that the hospital and one of its managers were guilty of retaliation against Ms. Toussaint. However, the jury said Ms. Toussaint failed to prove race discrimination.

The jury awarded Ms. Toussaint $28 million, the vast majority of which was for punitive damages.

"This is a monumental verdict, and it really shows the jury was outraged at the treatment of this lifelong nurse," Allison MacLellan, Ms. Toussaint's attorney, told The Boston Globe. It's "sending a message to the Brigham and other institutions that retaliating against someone for standing up for what's right won't be tolerated."

Brigham and Women's and the manager plan to appeal.

"While it is gratifying that the jury found no evidence of racial discrimination in this case, we strongly disagree with the finding of retaliation and intend to pursue all legal avenues to appeal this verdict," a Brigham and Women's spokesperson said in a statement to The Boston Globe.

Ms. Toussaint and her Haitian-American colleague Nirva Berthold, MSN, RN, filed a joint lawsuit against the hospital, but Ms. Toussaint's claims went to trial first. Ms. Berthold still works as a care coordinator at Brigham and Women's.

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