Facility retaliated against whistle-blower nurse, Texas court finds

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A long-term care facility in Texas fired a nurse for retaliatory reasons, a state appeals court ruled. That nurse is, therefore, entitled to recover claims brought against the facility operator.

Cathy Ann Winters in June of 2001 was fired two days after she reported a resident's allegations of sexual abuse to her supervisors at Town Hall Estates-Whitney Inc. The appeals court upheld the jury verdict that the facility was liable under the act for illegally firing Winters. As a result of the jury verdict, she was awarded thousands of dollars in damages and attorneys fees.

In making its ruling, the Texas Court of Appeals, Tenth District, found there was a "report" about the resident's accusation under the law, even though it was never put in writing and even though Winters did not necessarily believe the resident's claim. The certified nursing assistant accused of abuse ultimately pleaded guilty to charges of indecent exposure.