Suit by former jail nurse dismissed but may be refiled

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A lawsuit by a former Allegheny County Jail nurse against the county and its correctional healthcare provider was dismissed from federal court Monday but is likely to be refiled in part in state court.

Sherry Anderson, of Bellevue, sued the county and Allegheny Correctional Health Services in September, saying she was fired after complaining about several practices and attempting to blow the whistle on decisions that she said contributed to the May death of inmate Derek Black.

According to her complaint, her discharge violated her constitutional right to free speech, was a wrongful discharge and violated state whistle-blower laws.

U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry found that Ms. Anderson's free speech rights weren't violated because her statements "were addressed only to her immediate supervisor, and then to the next person up the ACHS chain-of-command." Speech as an employee is not constitutionally protected, he wrote.

Her wrongful discharge and whistle-blower counts relate to state laws and can be refiled there, the judge found. Attorney Timothy M. Kolman, who represents Ms. Anderson, said he will file a complaint in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

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