A jury has awarded a former nurse $490,000 in a civil suit after she said Catskill Regional Medical Center traumatized her by faking a robbery as part of a training drill.
Alison Mastandrea was working as an emergency room nurse at Grover M. Hermann Hospital on April 26, 2012, when the hospital conducted a drill to simulate a narcotics robbery. Mastandrea said the hospital never informed her of the drill, and thus she thought the situation was real when a county employee entered the emergency room demanding narcotics, and stated he had a gun when Mastandrea asked.
Mastandrea was informed only afterward that the incident was a drill, she said in a lawsuit filed in November 2012. Though she participated in a post-drill debrief, Mastandrea said she later suffered an emotional breakdown and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She was unable to continue working as a nurse, and is now on disability.
Mastandrea’s lawyer, David Jaroslawicz, said he found it “astonishing” that the hospital has maintained that it did nothing wrong. Mastandrea is licensed to carry a gun, Jaroslawicz said, and if she had been carrying her gun that day without warning of the drill, “it would have been a real tragedy.”
The trial took two and a half weeks in Sullivan County Supreme Court. Jaroslawicz said he thought the award was a little low, but fair.
“Hopefully next time the hospital decides to have a drill, they’ll find a volunteer instead of upsetting someone’s life for a drill,” Jaroslawicz said.
Despite the verdict, Jaroslawicz said he expects the case to continue in appellate court. Both sides already have appeals pending – the hospital appealed Judge Stephan Schick’s decision not to dismiss the hospital employees from the suit, and Jaroslawicz appealed Schick’s dismissal of the law enforcement and county defendants who assisted the hospital in conducting the drill. Those appeals will still move forward, and Jaroslawicz said he expects the hospital to appeal the jury verdict as well.
Hospital spokesperson Rob Lee said he could not comment on ongoing litigation.
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