Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Jan. 4, 2011, 4:41am
TYLER-A former nurse is seeking more than $15 million from a Tyler hospital alleging she was fired after complaining about employees taking pictures of sedated patients and posting the pictures on Facebook.
Debbie Blevins filed suit against Tyler Cardiovascular Consultants on Dec. 22 in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division.
She accuses the defendant of allowing staff, including doctors, to post pictures of sedated patients on social networking websites, such as Facebook, in violation of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy laws, ethical standards and basic morals.
According to the complaint, Tyler Cardiovascular Consultants hired Blevins in January 1991 as a licensed vocational nurse. She alleges she was terminated after 20 years of service on Aug. 9, immediately prior to seeking retirement benefits.
In addition to the HIPAA violations, Blevins claims retaliation, discrimination, violations of the Equal Pay Act, conversion and denial of due process.
"Besides complaining in writing of violations of the Equal Pay Act, age, race, gender, sex discrimination, favoritism, discrimination, ethics violations and HIPAA violations, Blevins has spoken with management who have failed and refused to take any corrective action," the lawsuit states.
Blevins states that instead of her concerns being addressed, she was terminated.
The plaintiff is seeking more than $1.25 million for back pay, reinstatement to former position, lost fringe benefits, training and promotional opportunities and forward pay; $5 million for pain and suffering, mental anguish and humiliation; $10 million for punitive damages; and an award of interest, attorney's fees and court costs.
Blevins is represented by Dallas attorney Hiram McBeth III. A jury trial is requested.
U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider is assigned to the case.
Case No. 6:10-cv-00682