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Nurse Sues Legacy Health, Claims Retaliation For Reporting Unsafe Staffing and Violence

On January 8, 2024, Joshua Bramblett, a lead emergency room nurse at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the hospital, claiming he was fired after repeatedly warning management about unsafe staffing levels and lack of security that left employees vulnerable to violence. Now, he’s seeking $810,000 in damages. 

According to the lawsuit filed on Jan. 8, Bramblett, who worked the night shift in the ER, reported his concerns to management multiple times from 2016 to 2019. He cited “inadequate staffing and disproportionate effort made to prevent workplace violence towards employees and patients.” Bramblett claims the unsafe environment culminated in a deadly shooting in the ER in 2019.

Last summer, a man fatally shot security guard Bobby Smallwood outside the maternity unit. 

According to his legal complaint, Bramblett claims he was terminated for defending co-workers during patient attacks. The hospital alleges Bramblett used “excessive force” and accused him of patient abuse, as stated in his complaint.

Bramblett’s Attorney Shanti Lewallen told local news outlet Willamette Week that their client is motivated by concern for his nurse colleagues in the ER and “he wants to make sure nurses aren’t having to take a role in securing the ER. They need to take these concerns seriously.” He hopes the lawsuit will spur the hospital to take more substantive action to protect staff.

Alleged Workplace Staffing and Safety Issues

Bramblett reports that he repeatedly warned the hospital about staffing and security issues, and  says hospital administration failed to make any meaningful changes. Instead, according to the lawsuit, Bramblett accuses Legacy Good Samaritan of firing him in December 2019, just months after the deadly shooting in the ER as an alleged act of retaliation. 

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Bramblett is seeking economic and non-economic damages in the lawsuit.

Bramblett hopes his lawsuit will prompt Legacy Good Samaritan and other hospitals to take violence prevention and staff safety more seriously.

Legacy Good Samaritan provided the following statement to Nurse.org regarding this lawsuit, 

“As a community hospital system serving our region for more than a century, our mission is good health for all. That means that we care for everyone who comes through our doors with dignity and respect.  Safety and healing are always our top priorities. While violence in the workplace is growing nationwide, this unfortunately is not a new trend in the healthcare industry. For years, Legacy has worked to continually bolster our safety and security for our staff and for our patients, and we are deeply committed to continue that work today, tomorrow and long into the future.  

Regarding the allegations made in this complaint, we will respond in the appropriate legal venue.”

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