$10 million awarded to female doctor, nurses who sued hospital over physical attack, hidden camera

Posted On:   02 October 2018

Illinois, US – 7th September, 2018: Seven women, all former employees at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, were awarded a total of more than $10 million on Thursday in a jury verdict stemming from a lawsuit over an attack against a doctor and secret video surveillance of female staff changing and using the restroom, according to an attorney representing the women.

In their lawsuit, filed in September 2014 and amended in June, the plaintiffs accused the hospital of failing to act when violations of its own written policies were reported. The complaint detailed a physical attack on Dr. Caroline Ryan, an anesthesiologist, in July 2013. Dr. Stephen F. Laga, a surgeon, choked and pushed Ryan at a surgical intensive care unit at the hospital, according to the complaint.

When she reported the incident, hospital leadership repeatedly asked Ryan to consider “dropping” the report, even though Laga had a “long and documented” history of violent conduct, according to the filing.

The following year, in a separate instance described in the complaint, six female nurses and technicians who used a locker room and bathroom at the medical center were unlawfully recorded by a hidden camera as they used the restroom and changed into and out of their work clothes, according to the complaint.

The camera was placed inside a toilet by Dr. Robert Weiss, an eye surgeon affiliated with the Chicago Eye Institute, which maintained a location at Illinois Masonic. When the camera (and images of some of the women in various stages of undress) was discovered, Weiss was arrested.

Though the hospital knew of the arrest, it delayed suspending Weiss’ medical privileges, according to the complaint, which also accused the hospital of ignoring other inappropriate sexual conduct by Weiss.

In December 2015, Weiss pleaded guilty to felony charges of unlawful videotaping.

A Cook County jury awarded $7 million in punitive damages against the hospital and $1,175,000 in compensatory damages to the women, said attorney Jeff Kulwin.

In a statement, Adam Mesirow, a spokesman for Illinois Masonic, said “the safety and security of our patients and team members is our top priority.

“With respect to this case, the physicians involved were not a part of our employed medical group and have not practiced at the medical center since 2014. Due to pending litigation, we are unable to offer further comment.”

Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-illinois-masonic-verdict-women-20180906-story.html