Ex-Allegheny County Jail nurse's lawsuit over firing dismissed from federal court
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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 today 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 and was a wrongful discharge and a violation of Pennsylvania whistleblower 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."
That means she was "speaking as an employee rather than as a private citizen, and therefore, did not engage in constitutionally protected activity," the judge wrote.
Her wrongful discharge and whistleblower 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 the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.
First Published January 7, 2013 12:42 pm