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Nurses Who Called Police on Coworker For Drug Theft Sue Ex-Employer

Three nurses in Lawrenceburg Kentucky are pursuing legal action against Heritage Hall nursing home after allegedly being terminated for reporting a fellow nurse to police who stole morphine meant for patients. The anonymous nurses told LEX18 that they witnessed 51-year-old Abigail Hall stealing morphine that was prescribed to residents suffering from chronic pain and that she was inebriated at work. They say that the administration told them not to call the police, and they called anyway. 

Hall was arrested and is facing multiple charges including, 

She originally faced 21 counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, but those were dropped at her court appearance in September 2023, but may still be charged by a grand jury. She is currently awaiting trial.  

Hall additionally requested a lower bond, but that request was denied by Judge Laua Witt, who stated, “We have the most vulnerable that she was in charge of their care — the most vulnerable people who do not have the ability sometimes to speak up for themselves, and their own care. So I believe the serious nature of this offense and serious nature to the victims, warrant the bond being what it is.”

The nurses say that Hall, disappeared into the bathroom for an extended period during her shift. Upon her return, the witness went into the restroom to find the cover of a morphine bottle discarded in the trash. They also observed Hall to be inebriated. 

The nurses say they were told by the administration not to call the police on Hall and referred to their concerns as speculation. According to the nurses, the administration told them to inform Hall that she was being sent home due to the facility being over budget that night. 

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However, the nurses chose to go against the administration and called the police anyway. The call, outlined in the warrant, prompted swift action from law enforcement.

Once police arrived they stopped Halll while she was attempting to leave the facility intoxicated. They later located a backpack believed to belong to Hall at the nursing home. Inside the bag, authorities found seven syringes filled with a mysterious blue liquid, believed to be morphine. The warrant details a confession from Hall, wherein she purportedly admitted to stealing the drugs from Heritage Hall, the nursing facility where she was employed. The warrant states, “Hall advised that the seven syringes with the blue liquid was morphine that she had taken from Heritage Hall. Ms. Hall also advised Sgt. Brashears that she had taken a dose of morphine while on shift earlier tonight while caring for twenty-one patients.”

She also admitted to the investigator that she took the morphine and replace the liquid with tap water and blue food coloring. 

“She stole meds from hospice patients that were unable to advocate for themselves … we haven’t slept well knowing that they sat there lying in pain,” an anonymous nurse said.

The anonymous nurses reported the incident to local police as required by their nursing protocols and nursing code of ethics. However, the nurses say they were fired from their positions at Heritage Hall just two days after alerting the authorities. They also allege that they were denied shifts at all Signature HealthCARE facilities. The nurses argue this was a retaliatory move by their former employer.

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The nurses’ attorney, Thomas Clay told LEX18 “The message to these plaintiffs was very clear: You come to work, do your job, and keep your mouth shut don’t raise concerns about the impaired conditions of other employees at that facility. It’s a chilling message.”

Represented by counsel, the nurses are now suing Heritage Hall for wrongful termination. The lawsuit, filed in Anderson County Circuit Court this week, argues that the nurses adhered to their professional responsibilities by reporting the theft and should be protected from retaliation under whistleblower laws. The suit seeks compensation for damages, back pay, and legal fees.

LEX18 asked Signature HealthCARE about the allegations, to which they said they could not comment on the pending litigation, and they provided the following statement, “Signature HealthCARE at Heritage Hall Rehab and Wellness Center has been investigated and validated by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to comply.”

“But what we can say is we work hard to serve our residents, their families, and our stakeholders each and every day, as they are our top priority. We ask that WLEX-18 and its viewership withhold judgment and presumption concerning any pending litigation as allegations in a lawsuit are just that and are proven and disproven through the legal process. We continue to be thankful for the dedicated team at Heritage Hall and for their continued focus toward the care of our residents and patients.”

 

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