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REDDINGTON v. STATEN ISLAND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL

June 21, 2005.

CARMEL REDDINGTON, Plaintiff,
v.
STATEN ISLAND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL and NORTH SHORE-LONG ISLAND JEWISH HEALTH SYSTEM, INC., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: I. LEO GLASSER, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Carmel Reddington ("plaintiff") brings this action against her former employer, Staten Island University Hospital ("SIUH"), and North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, Inc. ("Health System"), the entity that allegedly owned and/or controlled SIUH. She asserts causes of action for age discrimination and retaliatory discharge for whistleblowing activities. Pending before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) and for attorney's fees pursuant to N.Y. Labor Law § 740.

  FACTS

  The following facts are accepted as true for purposes of this motion.*fn1 Plaintiff was an employee of defendant SIUH from December 19, 1994 to October 30, 2002. Am. Compl. ¶ 3. When she began working for SIUH in 1994, she was a Coordinator of Volunteer Services. In March of 1998, plaintiff was promoted to Manager of Volunteer Services. Id. ¶ 15. In February 2002, Joseph Conte ("Joseph Conte"), Vice President of SIUH, held a Total Quality Leadership Team meeting at which he discussed his plans to travel to Italy to market a radiation therapy treatment to persons with cancer in that country. After the meeting, plaintiff indicated to Joseph Conte that she spoke Italian and offered him her assistance. Id. ¶ 17.

  On May 16, 2002, Joseph Conte asked plaintiff to meet with him and Dr. Gilbert Lederman ("Lederman"), the Director of Radiation Oncology at SIUH, the next morning. At the meeting on May 17, Joseph Conte and Lederman told plaintiff that twelve families from Italy were at SIUH and asked her if she would act as an interpreter for them. Plaintiff agreed to do so in addition to performing her tasks as Manager of Volunteer Services until the hospital hired full-time employees for the interpreter position. Id. ¶ 20.

  Plaintiff then accompanied Lederman to meet the Italian families. Upon introducing herself, plaintiff "was besieged with complaints of inadequate and non-treatment, abandonment, and failure to provide a translator." Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiff reported these complaints to Lederman, who assured her that the concerns would be addressed. Plaintiff continued to receive complaints from the Italian families, which she reported to Joseph Conte later that week. Id. ¶ 23. Joseph Conte asked plaintiff to meet with him the next morning to resolve the complaints, but the next day plaintiff was unable to find him. Instead, on May 20, plaintiff reported the families' complaints to Lederman who responded that Joseph Conte was solely responsible for the patients' treatment. Id. ¶¶ 25, 26.

  On May 21, Lederman asked plaintiff to notify the Italian families that he planned to hold a meeting. At that meeting, plaintiff acted as an interpreter for Lederman and two other individuals, Alfred L. Glover ("Glover"), the Chief Operating Officer of SIUH, and Ralph J. Lamberti ("Lamberti"), the Executive Senior Vice President of SIUH. The Italian patients and their families expressed their concerns, in particular the need for additional interpreters, and plaintiff relayed that information to Lederman, Glover and Lamberti. Id. ¶¶ 17-30.*fn2

  In mid-June 2002, plaintiff acted as an interpreter at a meeting with Joseph Conte, Lederman, Andrew Passeri, Ph.D. ("Passeri")*fn3 and two others, Salvatore Conte and Dr. Lemongello, who plaintiff alleges falsely misrepresented themselves as medical doctors. Id. ¶ 33. At that meeting, the individuals discussed plans to establish a second office in Italy, in addition to the one in Naples which Salvatore Conte staffed, to be managed by someone named Lemongello. As with Salvatore Conte, Lemongello was to receive a $1,750 fee for each patient he referred to SIUH who was treated there. Id. ¶ 33. Plaintiff expressed her concern about the legitimacy and legality of this fee arrangement to Joseph Conte on numerous occasions. Id. ¶ 34.

  Plaintiff continued to receive complaints from Italian patients and their families about the inadequacy of the treatment they were receiving and to report that information to Joseph Conte. He dismissed the complaints and told plaintiff, "You are not to be at their beck and call" and "What do they need, a babysitter?" Id. ¶ 36.

  In August 2002, plaintiff went to Joseph Conte's office, which he shared with Anthony Ferreri ("Ferreri"), Senior Vice President of Human Resources. While waiting for Conte, plaintiff told Elaine Burke ("Burke"), Ferreri's administrative assistant, about the Italian patients' complaints. Burke suggested that plaintiff speak to Passeri. Plaintiff later met with Passeri and told him about "the inadequate patient care" and that additional interpreters were needed. Id. ¶ 41. Passeri stated that he would like to establish an International Patient Program ("IPP"), of which plaintiff would be the director. In fact, while plaintiff was in the office, Passeri called Ferreri of Human Resources and told him as much. Id. ¶¶ 41-42. During the meeting, plaintiff also asked Passeri whether she could return to her position as Manager of Volunteer Services if the position with the IPP did not work out, and Passeri assured her that she could. Id. ¶ 43.

  On August 20, 2002, plaintiff met with Ferreri about the new position with the IPP. In response to plaintiff's concerns about who would assume the position of Manager of Volunteer Services in plaintiff's stead, Ferreri indicated that the hospital was in the process of hiring someone. Id. ¶ 45. When plaintiff returned from a two-week vacation, Burke provided her with a job description for the new position as Director of the IPP, which plaintiff signed on August 30, 2002. In that position, Joseph Conte was plaintiff's immediate supervisor.

  While in the new position, plaintiff continued to report concerns to the hospital administrators. For example, in September 2002, plaintiff told Joseph Conte that, while she was in Italy, Salvatore Conte told her that he was required to send pathology slides to SIUH for each prospective patient. Joseph Conte explained that two patients in the treatment program were erroneously treated because they never actually had cancer. Id. ¶ 51. Plaintiff also complained to Joseph Conte on October 18, 2002 that "she was being treated more like a clerk than as a director" and that Burke had been acting as a director and undermining plaintiff's management of the IPP. Plaintiff asked Conte why she was "being harassed by Elaine [Burke]" and he responded, "I didn't know we were harassing you." Id. ¶ 52.

  On October 25, 2002, Margaret D'Alto ("D'Alto"), Vice President of Human Resources, arranged a meeting with plaintiff. D'Alto said she understood plaintiff had some concerns. Plaintiff relayed her concerns about Burke's efforts to undermine plaintiff's authority, for example, by rescheduling IPP events for the weekends, which was inconvenient for plaintiff. Id. ¶ 54. Additionally, plaintiff showed D'Alto an event flyer that Joseph Conte sent to personnel in the Radiation Oncology Department, which indicated that people interested in attending should RSVP to Burke. Id. ¶ 55. D'Alto indicated plaintiff had some "legitimate concerns" and that she would investigate them. Id. ¶ 56. D'Alto also stated that Burke was "the point person" between Joseph Conte and plaintiff, and plaintiff responded that she was comfortable with that arrangement. Plaintiff told D'Alto she was "merely asking for some clarification on the logistics of her department." Id. ¶ 58. Finally, D'Alto asked plaintiff to meet with her and Burke on October 30, 2002 to "clear up any misunderstandings." Id. ¶ 59.

  As planned, plaintiff went to D'Alto's office on October 30, but was informed that Burke would not be present at the meeting. Instead, D'Alto's assistant, Marie, was present to take notes. Id. ¶ 60. D'Alto accused plaintiff of contacting Joseph Conte after plaintiff was told that Burke would be the "point person." Plaintiff stated she was unaware that she was not permitted to call Conte. D'Alto then told plaintiff that she was terminated. Plaintiff asked if she could return to her position as Manager of Volunteer Services, but D'Alto said, "I don't think Joe [Conte] wants you around." Id. ¶¶ 61-64. When plaintiff asked what she had done wrong, D'Alto said only that ...


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