Black Nurse Banned From Touching “WHITE” Baby Wins Lawsuit
After settling one lawsuit, a Flint, Michigan hospital accused of honoring a racist man’s request that Black nurses not care for his newborn said Friday that the “situation … was trigged by conduct which is not consistent with Hurley’s policies.”
Hurley Medical Center now faces a second lawsuit over the incident. It settled the first suit — with veteran neonatal nurse Tonya Battle, 49 — Thursday after hours of negotiations between lawyers and hospital officials. Battle’s lawsuit put the national spotlight on the 105-year-old teaching hospital.
The second lawsuit is from Carlotta Armstrong, who, according to her attorney, also is a veteran nurse. “I’m asking for justice. I want to present this to a jury,” attorney Tom Pabst said. “I want to see what the community thinks about it. I don’t want to settle this.”
Battle’s lawsuit accused hospital staff of posting a note on an assignment clipboard saying that African-American nurses could not care for a certain newborn. The baby’s father had made the request after he found Battle caring for the baby, Battle said. The note later was removed, but Black nurses were not assigned to care for the infant for about a month, according to the complaint filed in Genesee County Circuit Court in January.
On Friday evening, with Battle and two other nurses at her side, the hospital’s CEO, Melany Gavulic, read from a prepared statement that said, in part, “We regret that our policies were not well enough understood and followed, causing the perception that Hurley condoned this conduct.
“Hurley Medical Center is fundamentally opposed to any form of racial discrimination,” Gavulic read. She indicated that the incident may lead to staff training, though the statement offered no specifics and did not address the allegations in the second suit.
After Gavulic’s prepared statement, Battle recalled for reporters the incident she said began Oct. 31, when a man walked into the neonatal unit, where Battle was at an infant’s bedside. As he reached toward the child, she asked to see his wristband, which would identify him as the child’s parent.
He abruptly told her he wanted to see her supervisor, who then advised Battle she should no longer to care for the child, Battle said. “I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe that somebody would be making that request,” she told reporters. “I just felt like I was taken back in time.”
Hours earlier, Battle’s husband, Richard Battle, said the couple was relieved with the settlement and hoped to put the incident behind them.
“She was devastated” by the note, Richard Battle said. “She’s not the kind of person to make a big deal about things.”