Judge dismisses suit over Westmoreland jail firing
U.S. District Judge David Cercone Tuesday approved a joint motion dismissing an Irwin woman's lawsuit claiming that the former private health contractor for Westmoreland County Prison fired her to cover up the alleged mishandling of narcotics and other drugs at the jail.
The motion, filed Friday by attorneys for Cynthia Schade, 54, and NaphCare Inc. of Birmingham, Ala., and three company executives, does not provide details of the settlement.
Attorneys for either side could not be reached for comment. Kemberly English, a spokeswoman for Naphcare, did not respond to a request for comment. NaphCare no longer provides health care for the prison.
In her lawsuit, Schade said she was fired after she complained to her superiors that narcotics were not stored properly at the prison and were not locked up. She sued for wrongful discharge, defamation, breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation.
Schade was hired in 2011 as the prison health services administrator. When she took over, she found that safeguards for handling drugs were haphazard and that prescription drug bottles were kept in unlocked desk drawers or sat openly on shelves in the nursing station, the lawsuit states.
Drugs confiscated from incoming inmates were not recorded or kept secure, she claimed. Schade said inmates were receiving expired medications and were administered drugs prescribed for inmates who had been released and for other inmates still in jail. Nurses changed the dosages of the medications without consulting physicians, the suit said.
She claimed that licensed practical nurses were performing nursing duties that exceeded the limits of their licenses.
When she brought the problems to the attention of company officials, she claimed in the lawsuit, she was first reprimanded and then fired in retaliation for exposing the problem.
The county prison board last year conducted an internal investigation after narcotics and other medications disappeared from a nurse's cart while they were being dispensed to prisoners. No one was charged in the incident, but two nurses working for NaphCare were not allowed to return to the prison.
Schade's lawsuit is the third to be settled by NaphCare.
The lawsuit filed by the estate of an inmate who committed suicide in prison was settled in federal court in January, according to court records.
A suit settled in 2011 involved a 23-year-old North Huntingdon man who died of acute heroin withdrawal after he was taken to the prison.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 11 Ligonier Township residents rescued by boat from floodwaters
- Spirit Airlines puts Chicago on its flight path
- Westmoreland historical society holding antiques appraisal
- Unity planners OK proposal for Route 30 retail development
- Visitation parish to hold Longaberger Basket Bingo/Bash
- West Newton ponders adding to emergency call list
- Hempfield man to plead guilty to posing as policeman
- Court in the Classroom program provides insight for Norwin High School students
- Restitution payments top record in Westmoreland County