Michigan Hospital Settles Nurse's Explosive Race-Discrimination Suit, Gets Hit With Another


Even while it settled one lawsuit, the Flint, Michigan hospital faced another suit alleging it honored a man's request that no African-American nurses take care of his newborn. And a civil rights group connected with Rev. Al Sharpton vowed to proceed with a protest in front of the hospital Monday.

Late Friday, Hurley Medical Center announced it settled the suit with neonatal nurse Tonya Battle, a long-time employee, after widespread publicity (including publication of the purported note in the patient's chart, saying, "No African-American nurses to care for baby, per Dad's request.")

The second lawsuit was filed Thursday by Carlotta Armstrong, who also is a veteran nurse at the hospital, according to USA Today. "I am asking for justice," her attorney Tom Pabst told the paper. "I want to present this to a jury. I want to see what the community thinks about it. I don't want to settle this."

Initially, the hospital had denied that it had honored the father's request. But on Friday evening, the hospital CEO, Melany Gavullic (above at podium) announced a settlement to Battle's lawsuit (the hospital didn't disclose what that settlement involved). Gavullic instead read a prepared apology, saying, "We regret that our policies were not well enough understood and followed, causing the perception that Hurley condoned this conduct." She said that Hurley is "fundamentally opposed to any form of racial discrimination." She didn't address the second suit, which was filed Thursday.

Battle had alleged that the man complained to her supervisor after he found her caring for his baby. He pulled up his sleeve and showed the supervisor "some type of tattoo which was believed to be a swastika." After that, a note was attached to the baby's clipboard, advising staff that no African-American nurses could care for the child.

The Michigan chapter of Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network says that it still plans to protest outside the Hurley Medical Center on Monday, MichiganLive.com reported. Sam Riddle, the political director of NAN, claimed that it was "challenging the institutional behavioral practices of Hurley....We won't go away like a plaintiff in a lawsuit. We're here until the institutional practices of Hurley stop."

MichiganLive reported that Riddle, a former Flint mayoral candidate, was released from federal prison last year after "serving time" in a Detroit bribery case.