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$200,000 Awarded to Prison Nurse for Wrongful Termination

$200,000 Awarded To Prison Nurse For Wrongful Termination

Joan Gilles, a 67-year old former prison nurse at the Northern Maine Juvenile Correctional Facility (NMJCF), in Charleston, filed a law suit against Prison Health Services (PHS), a company that provides medical services for several prisons across the country including NMJCF, where Gilles worked.

Gilles filed the suit against PHS for wrongful termination and for improperly passing her over for promotions. The case went to jury trial in Penobscot County, and Gilles argued that her supervisors at PHS failed to give her promotions and fired her, due to her age and because of her attempts to improve medical services at NMJCF. Gilles' attorney Arthur Greif, questioned nurses who had worked with Gilles at the facility, and they testified that she was a good nurse and praised her ability. During the closing arguments Greif reminded the jurors that Gilles' former co-workers testified that she was a good nurse, and that the male nurse that replaced Gilles, had improper contact with female prisoners, and had incorrect narcotic drug counts at the end of his shift on two occasions. Greif, also told the jury that the supervisors at PHS were tired of Gilles trying to make sure that the prisoners at NMJCF, were getting proper medical services.

The jury, deliberated for just over two hours before they returned a verdict in favor of Gilles. The jury awarded Gilles $75,000 in compensatory damages and $125,000 in punitive damages, for a total of $200,000. Gilles was also entitled to back pay and front pay that was to be decided by a judge. Greif, estimated that Gilles would be entitled to $100,000 in back pay and $75,000 in front pay, possibly bringing the total judgment to about $400,000.

Source: Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine- August 17, 2001).

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