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California: Jail Nurse Receives $703,957 in Retaliation Suit Against County, PHS

On December 15, 2011, following a three-week trial, a federal jury in San Francisco awarded Freddie M. Davis, formerly employed at Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail, $528,957 in damages stemming from retaliation she experienced after she and other nurses complained about mistreatment from a supervisor.

The jury found former Alameda County Sheriff’s Captain James E. Ayala liable for retaliation against Davis, a licensed vocational nurse, but held that Sheriff’s Lieutenant Darryl Griffith was not liable. Summary judgment had previously been entered in favor of the county.

In March 2006, Davis joined 34 other jail nurses and employees in signing a petition that protested “intimidating con-duct” by Linda Henson, the Director of Nursing for Prison Health Services (PHS), the company that provided medical care to Santa Rita jail prisoners. According to Davis, who worked for PHS for over 15 years and received consistently positive work performance reviews, Henson “demonstrated a pattern of racist and sexist behavior toward her at work.”

Davis’ attorney, Pamela Price, said Captain Ayala threatened to revoke Davis’ security clearance in retaliation for her complaints; when Davis protested, saying that Ayala could not threaten her in that manner, she was transferred to the mental health unit, which was considered “the worst place to work at the jail.”

Davis filed a state court action against PHS in 2007; the parties settled that case for $375,000, and Davis agreed to resign.

Following the jury award in her separate federal suit against Alameda County and various jail officials, on February 9, 2012, $4,743.06 in costs was assessed against Davis for her losing claims, while $15,319.30 in costs was assessed against Ayala. The district court entered an order on October 31, 2012 that specified the $528,957 jury award had been reduced by an offset of $200,000 based on Davis’ settlement with PHS – resulting in a total recovery of $703,957, excluding costs and attorney fees. See: Davis v. Prison Health Services, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Cal.), Case No. 3:09-cv-02629-SI.

Additional source: Bay City News Service

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Related legal case

Davis v. Prison Health Services