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Nurses’ lawsuit re lack of PPE gets notice

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  • Law posted:Uncategorized
  • Date:April 11, 2020

It is hard for nurses – some long-term employees, working in hospitals caring for COVID-19 patients – to speak out during the pandemic. One brave nurse reported her experience to the New York Times in an opinion piece. Meanwhile, NYU-Langone is threatening nurses with termination if they speak to the press, as published in Bloomberg News. The article said that “the NYU Langone Health system has warned employees they could be terminated if they talk to the media without authorization.” Read it here.

As an NYU Law grad, I am shocked that any part of my alma mater, which bills itself as “A Private University in the Public Service,” would issue such an edict. Free speech and public knowledge are surely within public service. (I do believe that NYU Law School has not lost this mission; if you visit its website, there are publically accessible information about COVID and the law.) But the hospital has lost its way. It should go to one of the Law School’s presentations about this and stop worrying about the exposer of truth.

Anyway, Mother Jones, a venerable publication that seeks to expose cover-ups and untruths of government and the oligarchs, was unafraid to publish a story about my nurses. See the Mother Jones article.  The case has also been covered by the Business Insider and Becker’s Hospital Review.

Meanwhile, the case has been covered in some local press outlets in New York (TODAY), a local news affiliate in Kansas, and a FOX affiliate in Oklahoma. In the latter, Brian Cleary, Krucial CEO, admits that the call for Krucial came from lame-duck New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio. See KBMC. Meanwhile, the City of New York Health and Hospitals Corporation refuses to post the public contract on The City Record Online. When asked by the Mother Jones‘ journalist, the City declined to comment on its connection to Krucial. My Freedom of information request has gone unanswered.  RE FOIL Request for Contract between Krucial Staffing

Government entities that refuse to tender documents, supposedly within the public record, are using COVID as an excuse. FOIL requests are supposed to be answered within 5 days; extra time is appropriate, but 60 days? Meanwhile, the nurses were duped. The nurses suing Krucial were promised one thing and given something that could lose them their licenses or affect their (and their family’s) health. If you think that’s OK, that’s your decision. But Krucial misrepresented the terms of safety; it distorting the terms of what these nurses will have to face. If some nurses are willing to die without proper personal protective equipment, that is their decision, and there will likely be deaths. But none of the plaintiffs who objected to lack of safety came to New York assuming such a risk.

The amended complaint was recently filed (see below). That, plus the reporting, has created some changes. First, Krucial appears to be paying for the quarantine of nurses at the New Yorker Hotel, or elsewhere, where many workers are being housed. (They were not doing that before.) CEO Brian Cleary, however, is sending blast emails to employees to be sure to get proper personal protection equipment, or don’t accept an assignment. That email was likely something it did to cover Krucial’s tracks, and it has removed from its Instagram site a representation that all employees will get proper PPE. The video started was called “PPE Policy,” and it is now deleted. So Krucial now has no PPE policy!

But the follow-up question is this: What will the workers do then if they don’t get proper PPE? The City has sought bids on proper masks, but could it not have done this before luring nurses from all over the country through Krucial? Moreover, the City did little due diligence  Likely, these unsuspecting nurses will be told to “demobilize” – a term within Krucial’s lingo that means to stop working and go home. Krucial’s employee handbook requires nurses to follow OSHA guidelines, which require proper personal protection equipment. The NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation requires the same. Krucial is getting many, many calls in this unemployed economy, and will happily dispose of nurses who can’t get PPE. (The City of New York Health and Hospitals Corporation, meanwhile, is complicit in these failures, but I will have to see its contract with Krucial Staffing before I can ascertain if it has legal responsibility. I had previously stated that

I have other cases, but this one really burns me up – for my clients, the public, and because of the incompetence the Mayor has shown in deploying Krucial without due diligence and without coordinating with HHC hospitals. The DeBlasio administration deserves a post-mortem analysis before the Mayor goes onto greener pastures. He seemed so promising when he came into the office! But the White Knight failed in his progressive vision, promising so much, delivering so little. I cannot wait until he becomes the next Giuliani, slobbering on himself as he tries to stay relevant. DeBlasio might get onto “Real-Time” – he is friends with Bill Maher – but as they used to say of Nixon after he resigned, no one would elect him dogcatcher. What an eight-year disappointment he has been. To think that anyone thought he should be president other than him. He’s a charlatan, and not up to hs job now, let alone higher office. I remember when he first ran, I walked up to him and shook his hand. I did not vote for him in his second run, preferring to register a protest vote.

Krucial Staffing has also responded to the claims of MANY employees who were not properly fitted for an N95 mask. The N95 is the standard of care in preventing infections of health care providers, but these masks require a fit to be sure there is a seal that protects the nurses. The City is not providing these tests – or is doing so incompetently – and Krucial is not willing (nor, to be charitable) able to do them either. Therefore, Cleary recommends that anyone without a proper “fit test” – which determines the size of the respirator needed – to go to their hometowns over Easter Weekend. Who would have paid for the trip was unspecified, so you can be sure Krucial was not paying. Cleary’s suggestion is what is known in the law as a “pretext”: a lie to cover up true motives. CEO Cleary knows that no one who wants a proper fit test will go home and them come back – presumably on their own dime – especially after a holiday weekend. Indeed, should they go back to their hometown, they might have been quarantined for two weeks, depending on the state. Krucial is merely trying to shed these “problem employees” ASAP. It is not a surprise to me that DeBlasio trusted this fraud.

 

amended complaint

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2 responses to “Nurses’ lawsuit re lack of PPE gets notice”

  1. Jada Blakley says:

    How can you report things you know nothing about? I’m in NYC and let me promise you-we have and have had PPE and were most certainly fit tested! Tested by professionals the way we have always been tested. Just because you have a few disgruntled nurses say something, doesn’t make it true.

    • gantollino says:

      Tell me where you had this experience? Even if you won’t – and why not praise your employer – just because you had a good work situation does not mean my aggrieved nurses also did. “For example” is not proof. My clients all tell the same story, and witnesses not involved my case, want to tell their story. Just today, there was a report in Louisiana about how Krucial is reneging on pay issues. I’ve gotten at least 50 calls (probably more) about the same thing. Click

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