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Published: 1/29/2014

Nurse loses ruling over being fired from UTMC

Lawsuit over firing after botched surgery proceeds

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A state judge has ruled in favor of the University of Toledo Medical Center in a lawsuit filed by a longtime nurse who was fired after a botched kidney transplant surgery in 2012.

Melanie Lemay’s claim that UTMC, the former Medical College of Ohio, wrongly terminated her was dismissed from the complaint she filed against the institution.

But Judge Dale Crawford of the Court of Claims in Columbus said in his Jan. 15 decision that claims she made alleging defamation, slander, and libel and loss of consortium for her husband will be decided as the case makes its way through the court.

The lawsuit stems from a transplant surgery at the hospital on Aug. 10, 2012, in which Paul Fudacz, Jr., was supposed to have given his kidney to his sister, Sarah A. Fudacz. The organ was mistakenly thrown away by another nurse after it was removed from Mr. Fudacz.

That employee, Judith K. Moore, a part-time nurse, and Mrs. Lemay, the circulating nurse during the surgery, were terminated about a month later.

In her complaint filed Aug. 2, 2013, Mrs. Lemay alleged UTMC officials didn’t follow disciplinary steps in the nurses’ union’s collective bargaining agreement, and she accused the hospital of releasing reports and statements containing information about her to deflect responsibility for the error away from UTMC.

The complaint also cites the “loss of services, society, companionship, cooperation, affection, aid, comfort, and spousal consortium” for her husband, Patrick Lemay, who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which represents UTMC, filed a motion Sept. 5 asking the court to dismiss the claims.

In his ruling, Judge Crawford said Mrs. Lemay could not pursue the wrongful-termination claim in the Court of Claims, the standard venue for most lawsuits against state agencies. Instead, he said, she should have filed a lawsuit in common pleas court, which has jurisdiction over grievances under Ohio’s collective-bargaining law.

In a memorandum last month, Vesper Williams II, the Lemays’ attorney, told the court Mrs. Lemay tried to challenge her termination by filing a grievance and followed the collective-bargaining agreement procedure, “but nothing to this date had been done.”

Mr. Williams would not comment about the judge’s ruling.

Meghan Cunningham, a UT spokesman, said it “would be inappropriate to comment on pending litigation.”

Contact Mark Reiter at: mreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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