Skip to content Gordon & Rees New York Team Obtains Defense Verdict for University in Federal Health Care Whistle-Blower Suit


Search Gordon & Rees Results

December 2013

Gordon & Rees New York Team Obtains Defense Verdict for University in Federal Health Care Whistle-Blower Suit

A Gordon & Rees team led by prominent national trial lawyer and New York office managing partner Mercedes Colwin obtained a defense verdict in a federal whistle-blower suit filed against a prestigious university hospital by a former fellow.

Ms. Colwin and partner Diane Krebs’s strategic acumen and years of litigation experience in complex employment matters led to the successful defense of the retaliation claims against the renowned university hospital. The trial judge granted Gordon & Rees’s motion for directed verdict and ruled that the case be closed -- a complete victory for our client.

The plaintiff -- a surgery program fellow at the university’s medical school -- had anonymously phoned several pre-operative patients to inform them of her concerns about the program’s patient care. She was terminated for violating the university hospital’s disciplinary policy and for jeopardizing the welfare and safety of patients, employees, and other staff members. Although the plaintiff admitted she knew what she did was wrong, she sued alleging the university hospital fired her in retaliation for her complaints about patient care.

Ms. Colwin and Ms. Krebs’s winning strategy was to argue that the plaintiff’s secret communications to patients were not protected by New York labor law because she did not make them to a “public body” or “supervisor.” Also, the plaintiff’s termination was not retaliatory because it was predicated on grounds other than her disclosures regarding patient care.

The court unequivocally sided with our client in deciding the plaintiff’s egregious conduct related to her secretive, misguided, inappropriate and inexplicable phone calls created risk to patients’ health and led to her termination. The court also noted that the plaintiff’s actions after the calls were self-serving because she was more concerned about being blamed than about patient safety.

The victory is the latest for Ms. Colwin, a leading U.S. trial lawyer with 48 cases successfully tried to verdict. She is a legal analyst on the Fox News Network, where she regularly appears on legal issues involving high-profile matters. Ms. Colwin represents corporate executives and Fortune 500 clients who rely on her and her team of attorneys and experts to handle high-stakes legal matters. She recently served as co-chair for the American Conference Institute’s 19th National Employment Practices Liability Insurance Conference and she was selected as vice chair of the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel’s Employment Section for 2012-2013. Ms. Colwin has received numerous national recognitions, including Notre Dame Law School’s prestigious Graciela Olivarez Award, and she was named by Forbes Business American Airlines as one of the six most influential women in America.

Mercedes Colwin