In the first five (5) parts of my journal, I shared how after completing 12 months of a 17 month accelerated Nursing Program at Cleveland State University, my daughter was dismissed from the Program after being accused of the following serious allegations:
- Endangering the welfare of a patient
- Falsifying a patient’s medical records
- Lying to her instructor and the assigned nursing staff
The Student Grievance Board, during a hearing at CSU where my daughter shared what she felt was the true reason for her dismissal, found in favor of my daughter noting 1) her dismissal was unwarranted, and 2) she was not afforded her due process. The Student Grievance Board members also noted they sensed some animosity between the CSU faculty and my daughter. Unfortunately, even with the findings of the Board members, the President of CSU sided with the CSU faculty members and refused to reinstate my daughter. So with only 5 months remaining in the Program, my daughter was kicked out of the Nursing Program at CSU.
I’ve also shared the beginning of my daughter’s legal battle including the hard time she had when trying to find a law firm willing to sue a state protected agency, as well as some very questionable actions performed by her attorney, which left us wondering whose side the attorney was really working for. While waiting and preparing for trial, my daughter went on to graduate from Baldwin Wallace’s Accelerated Nursing Program, pass the NCLEX examination and became a Registered Nurse.
CSU’s legal defense subpoenaed Shana, the patient whose records Shana was accused of falsifying, and even one of BW’s Nursing Program officers. Interestingly, CSU’s legal defense did not subpoena the CSU Clinical Instructor who was over Shana during the alleged incident, nor the CSU Clinical Instructor Shana had initially complained about to the Ombudsman. Shana’s attorney immediately filed a ‘Motion to quash the subpoena’ of the BW officer, stating no one at BW would possess any first-hand knowledge of the facts and circumstances involving this case. Additionally, he noted to allow such a deposition to proceed would place an undue burden on Shana, in the form of increased litigation expenses. However, the Judge denied this request and the BW officer, with his attorney, had to submit to an oral examination.
Through Shana’s attorney, we learned the deposition given by the BW officer added no value to CSU’s case, however, the deposition given by the patient was mind-blowing!
During the Student Grievance Hearing at CSU on January 26, 2012, the complaint and evidence presented against Shana was listed in a seven (7) page document detailing the alleged events surrounding the examination of Shana’s last patient while a student at CSU. Now, however, during Shana’s deposition, CSU’s legal defense identified a several inch thick folder as the vessel that held multiple alleged complaints against and misconduct performed by Shana.
Shana underwent an exhausting session of questioning during her deposition with CSU’s legal defense. And I must admit this attorney was good; she was not only very experienced and aggressive, she had a stare that could quite possibly intimidate former boxing champ, Mike Tyson.
I’m unsure if the following was CSU’s legal defense’s attempt to make it appear Shana had been given her due process but here’s what I found most interesting during Shana’s deposition. Shana was asked to review and confirm she had been provided certain documents prior to her dismissal from the Nursing Program at CSU. After Shana denied receiving one certain document the first time, CSU’s legal defense called for a break and we were asked to leave the room. When we returned from the break, CSU’s legal defense asked Shana to review and confirm receiving additional documents. In the middle of these additional documents, there again was this one document Shana had previously denied ever receiving. Once again Shana denied receiving this document and later during the deposition, CSU’s legal defense once again asked for a break and asked us to once again leave the room. When we returned for the second time Shana was again asked to review and confirm receipt of certain documents. Once again in the middle of these additional documents was the document Shana had twice denied ever receiving, and for the third and final time, Shana denied ever receiving this document.
After three (3) long hours of questioning and reviewing documents, I knew one thing for certain. At the start of the deposition I felt at least four (4) of us knew for certain Shana was innocent of all charges, that would be Shana, her attorney, myself and the one accuser who was present, however, by the end of the deposition I knew there was no way in heck, that anyone in that room had one ounce of doubt of Shana’s innocence.
This may explain why only days before the pre-trial was to begin CSU’s legal defense submitted a request to the Court asking for a summary judgment opting not to face Shana in a court room where everyone, including Shana’s accusers, would have to swear to tell the truth or risk being charged with perjury. And that truth, divulged during the testimony by the patient, would have no doubt resulted in a favorable ruling in favor of my daughter.
To our dismay and most surprisingly, after three (3) years of preparing for trial and spending over $11,000 in legal fees, the Judge approved CSU’s request for a summary judgment.
CSU submitted a sworn affidavit from the CSU faculty member who, according to the letter read by Shana during the Student Grievance Hearing, accused Shana of bringing embarrassment to the Nursing Program, along with several other ‘unverified’ documents.
One document submitted (Exhibit B) titled ‘Documentation of Issues Requiring Student Counseling’ listed the following complaints about Shana which alleged to have happened between May 24 – June 15, 2011:
Issue 1: Unprepared for Clinical Tasks
Issue 2: Unavailability
Issue 3: Failure to Make the Patient a Priority
Issue 4: Failure to Perform Assessments and Gather Information About the Patient
Issue 5: Unable to Comprehend and Interpret Basic Principles and Available Data
Issue 6: Fabricates and Confabulates “cover” Stories
Issue 7: Failure to Chart and Document on Assigned Patients
Issue 8: Dishonesty
Issue 9: Falsification of Data in Patient Chart
Now one would think if these serious allegations were true and had actually been placed in Shana’s student file back in June 2011 while a student at CSU, at least two things would have happened: 1) the document would have had a space for the student to sign and would have been signed by Shana proving not only their authenticity, but that Shana had indeed been given copies of the complaints and 2) CSU’s faculty and legal team would have included these documents along with the seven pages submitted during the Student Grievance Hearing held on January 26, 2012.
Interestingly, the following was hand written at the top of the typed document, “This document was presented to Shana Thurs 1PM 6/16. I allowed her to take copy to review.” The document was signed only by a CSU faculty member.
Also included with the documents submitted to the Court was what was identified as Shana’s final Clinical Evaluation. Now according to Shana the clinical instructor, who by the way was not present when Shana was dismissed from the Program nor appeared and testified against Shana at the Student Grievance Hearing, had met with Shana to review Shana’s final evaluation, giving Shana high marks. Unfortunately, a copy of the final evaluation document was not provided to Shana.
The following are excerpts from the unofficial ‘Clinical Evaluation’ documents submitted to the Court:
“During semester, there were no complaints of lack of sensitivity by patients. However, on final clinical day…”
“Prior to last clinical experience, Shana seemed to prioritize care appropriately. However, on last clinical day …”
“During the semester, student usually facilitated patient participation in planning care. However, on last clinical day…”
“Until the last week of clinical, student provided care according to policy. On the final day…”
“Documentation throughout the course was adequate and no discrepancies noted. Documented false assessment findings on final patient.”
“No indication of lack of problem solving ability reported during the course until the last clinical day…”
“Throughout semester, there were no reported issues that student did not work with clients in planning care…on last day…”
What I find very, very interesting is the final paragraph noted on this document: “This final evaluation was never given to Shana as we never met… This is the evaluation that Shana would have received had the final evaluation meeting taken place.
Faculty: _____(I removed the typed name of the clinical instructor) RN, MSN, CNM~ __ Student: Shana (last name) —-
Date: ——– NUR382/rev.”
Now I’ll admit I really enjoy watching the Judge Judy programs. I think she applies the law in an unbiased manner, and she uses a lot of common sense when hearing cases. The first question that came to my mind after reading the submitted ‘Clinical Evaluation’ report is why in the world would someone who has done well throughout the entire accelerated nursing program (Shana’s prior clinical evaluations can prove this) risk losing it all by performing poorly on the very last patient, and even go as far as falsifying the records of this last patient.
Due to the HIPAA law I cannot divulge any information about the patient, but information about the patient’s profession and connection with CSU provided to Shana when first assigned this patient, would have no doubt made any nursing student assigned this patient perform to the very best of their abilities. As Judge Judy would say… “If it doesn’t make sense then it isn’t true.”
In following her Attorney’s advice, Shana submitted her sworn affidavit in which she denied all allegations pertaining to the final patient, along with a copy of the letter from the Student Grievance Board who ruled in favor of Shana, and other documents.
Unfortunately for us the Judge found in favor of CSU. Noting the documents submitted by CSU were sufficient evidence and that the CSU faculty had good reason to dismiss Shana from the Nursing Program. And in response to the work performed by Shana’s attorney, the Judge ruled “An affidavit submitted on summary judgment must contain more than denials and conclusory assertions to create a genuine issue of material fact.”
We immediately appealed the ruling. According to Shana’s attorney, the affidavit submitted by CSU was provided by someone who did not have first-hand knowledge of the case and therefore, this was nothing more than hear-say. It was also felt a summary judgment in this situation was inappropriate. Unfortunately, the Appeals Court upheld the Court’s decision. Information found later on the web may explain why the decision was upheld.
So, after spending over $29,000 in tuition fees and expenses and over $11,000 in legal fees, the effort to protect Shana’s rights (due process) and get reimbursement for the tuition fees she’s still responsible for was over.
Many have asked if we knew then how the case would end if we would still challenge CSU in Court. The answer is a resounding “YES”.
Stay tuned to the next episode where I give my take of this case.