Attorneys Lenard Leeds, Rick Ostrove, Jeff Brown and Tom Ricotta of Leeds Brown Law, PC, secured a $15 million verdict from a jury in Queens, New York, for a nurse who told the court she had been subjected to years of unwanted sexual advances, including overt sexual suggestions, propositions and even groping.
The plaintiff, Janet Bianco, testified that Dr. Matthew Miller, an employee of Flushing Hospital, began flirting with her and escalated his conduct over a period of years. She told jurors that he cornered and groped her in a room containing two sedated patients, and that he forcibly kissed her in front of another doctor. Bianco told her supervisors of Miller’s conduct, but they did nothing until she sent them a letter documenting Miller’s actions. Dr. Miller was subsequently terminated, but Bianco continues to experience stress, anxiety and depression because of the extensive period of harassment, according to medical testimony.
Bianco’s employer defended its conduct, arguing that it took action to terminate Miller as soon as it received Bianco’s letter. But attorney Ostrove said the hospital knew long before it received the letter that there were allegations of sexual harassment. He compared the hospital’s actions to those of major league baseball owners in light of the massive steroids scandal, contending that the hospital knew what was going on, but simply turned a blind eye to it. Testimony elicited at the trial demonstrated that the hospital provided its employees with no sexual harassment training, and that administrators condoned an atmosphere where sexual innuendo, dirty jokes and unwanted advances were commonplace.
The $15 million verdict is the highest dollar amount ever awarded to a plaintiff in sexual harassment action in the New York state courts. According to Ostrove, the details of Bianco’s harassment visibly moved members of the jury, and led them to send a message,” If you see something improper [in the workplace], you can’t ignore it…hospital supervisors watched [Bianco] being sexually harassed and did nothing about it. The jury found that unacceptable”
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