A former nurse at San Gabriel Valley Medical Center alleges she was forced to quit after complaining about poor patient care and for reporting that a group of colleagues — known internally as the “Mafia” — stole medications and sold them at a profit in the Philippines.
Lori Meadows’ Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names the hospital, AHMC Healthcare Inc., Horizon Health Management Co. and her former bosses, Tim Youngerman and Kim O’Conner.
Her allegations include wrongful termination, retaliation, violation of the state Labor Code, fraud and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
She’s seeking unspecified damages and a court order directing the hospital to stop the alleged illegal practices.
An AHMC representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The suit filed Wednesday states that Meadows was employed at the hospital from November 2011 until May 2013 and typically worked 12-hour shifts at $41 per hour.
In January 2012, Meadows told Youngerman, the hospital’s nursing unit manager, that patient blood-sugar levels were “spiking and dropping” and that some individuals were being “overly medicated,” the suit states.
She says she told Youngerman that the day-shift charge nurse was indifferent to her concerns, but no action was taken by Youngerman.
Four months later, Meadows complained to Youngerman that the plaintiff and her co-workers had found large quantities of controlled substances concealed in the nursing station at the Behavioral Medical Center, according to the lawsuit. She says she turned in the drugs to Youngerman and O’Conner, the nursing unit director.
Meadows also complained that large quantities of medications and supplies were missing from the unit, but Youngerman did not fully investigate or take corrective action, the suit alleges.
Meadows’ complaints to management made her a target from a group of other nurses “collectively known within the hospital and the union as the Mafia,” the suit states. Many members of the “Mafia” were disciplined at other hospitals for stealing medications and supplies, but O’Conner “hired these very same miscreant nurses to work for her again at San Gabriel” even though they had been fired or forced to resign at their previous jobs, the suit alleges.
The suit alleges members of the so-called “Mafia” conspired to “steal large quantities and medical supplies for the purpose of unlawfully selling them for profit overseas in the Philippines.”
Youngerman and O’Conner did nothing to safeguard the medications and supplies and simply ordered new ones to replace those allegedly stolen, the suit states.
The “Mafia” nurses retaliated against her by making false accusations of poor patient care by her to management, the suit states. They also told her they would try and get her fired and her license revoked, the suit alleges.
Although some of the initial complaints against Meadows were found by management to be unfounded, the attacks on her by the “Mafia” nurses continued and eventually she also became the target of retaliation by O’Conner and Youngerman, the suit alleges.
Frustrated with management’s alleged failure to address her concerns, Meadows filed a complaint with the Joint Commission, a nonprofit group that accredits health care organizations, the suit states.
Meadows received poor reviews in August 2012 and again in January 2013, accusing her of sub-par nursing skills and poor patient care, respectively, the suit states.
Meadows quit under continuing threats from hostile co-workers and amid news that a state Health Department investigator was sent to the hospital to investigate their false accusations against her, the suit states.
— City News Service