After settling one lawsuit, a Flint, Michigan hospital accused of honoring a racist man’s request that Black nurses not care for his newborn said Friday that the “situation … was trigged by conduct which is not consistent with Hurley’s policies.”
Hurley Medical Center now faces a second lawsuit over the incident. It settled the first suit — with veteran neonatal nurse Tonya Battle, 49 — Thursday after hours of negotiations between lawyers and hospital officials. Battle’s lawsuit put the national spotlight on the 105-year-old teaching hospital.
The second lawsuit is from Carlotta Armstrong, who, according to her attorney, also is a veteran nurse. “I’m asking for justice. I want to present this to a jury,” attorney Tom Pabst said. “I want to see what the community thinks about it. I don’t want to settle this.”
Battle’s lawsuit accused hospital staff of posting a note on an assignment clipboard saying that African-American nurses could not care for a certain newborn. The baby’s father had made the request after he found Battle caring for the baby, Battle said. The note later was removed, but Black nurses were not assigned to care for the infant for about a month, according to the complaint filed in Genesee County Circuit Court in January.
He abruptly told her he wanted to see her supervisor, who then advised Battle she should no longer to care for the child, Battle said. “I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe that somebody would be making that request,” she told reporters. “I just felt like I was taken back in time.”
Hours earlier, Battle’s husband, Richard Battle, said the couple was relieved with the settlement and hoped to put the incident behind them.
“She was devastated” by the note, Richard Battle said. “She’s not the kind of person to make a big deal about things.”
Earlier this week, Gavulic said in a written statement that the hospital told the father his request could not be granted, but that the man’s swastika tattoo created “anger and outrage” among the staff. Additionally, supervisors worried about the staff’s safety. On the same day, the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network held a news conference and small protest outside the hospital.
Leading the news conference was the Rev. Charles Williams, president of the Michigan chapter, who later said he was surprised when Gavulic invited him to her office. Both later said the meeting was productive.
Williams was not part of the Thursday meeting to settle Battle’s case, which lasted 14 1/2 hours, according to Battle’s husband. “We left (the meeting), and everybody was satisfied,” Richard Battle said, adding that he could not disclose the contents of the settlement.