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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Arcadia Weekly / Judge denies Arcadia hospital executive depositions to ex-workers

Judge denies Arcadia hospital executive depositions to ex-workers

by City News Service
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Attorneys for four ex-employees of USC Arcadia Hospital, alleging age discrimination and retaliation for complaining about health and safety in the workplace during the coronavirus, cannot depose five hospital executives, a judge ruled Monday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jon R. Takasugi agreed with hospital attorneys that lawyers for plaintiffs Fiona John, Shelly Perks, Lisa Marquez and Harold Hayes had not demonstrated they could not get the same information they want from other witnesses.

The state’s “apex deposition rule” states that agency heads and other top governmental executives are not subject to depositions absent compelling reasons. The judge wrote that the plaintiffs’ attorneys have not deposed people identified in the complaint and in discovery as having direct knowledge of the facts allegedly supporting their clients’ claims of retaliation, discrimination and unlawful harassment, including direct supervisors, human resources managers, union representatives and co-workers.

The five executives the plaintiffs’ attorneys sought to depose were hospital President and CEO Dan F. Ausman and four senior vice presidents, Steven Sisto, Clifford Daniels, John Peeples and Dr. Bala Chandrasekhar.

According to the suit filed in October 2021, the plaintiffs were fired about the time they had provided testimony to city officials, the media and internal managers and supervisors at USC Arcadia Hospital about their concerns of what they believe were inadequate COVID-19 protections, understaffing and expired inventory which allegedly directly impacted patient and employee safety.

John, then 59, of Altadena, was “systematically targeted” during her 16 years of service to USC Arcadia Hospital, where she prioritized patient care of mothers and their babies and raised concerns regarding COVID-19 precautions and other departmental issues before being fired earlier this year, the suit states.

Perks, then a 46-year-old single mother and 13-year employee from Santa Clarita who worked in the ICU, was fired after speaking out about her COVID-19 health and safety concerns, the suit states.

Marquez, then 63, of Azusa, has been a nurse for over three decades and worked for four years at USC Arcadia Hospital, which was formerly known as Methodist Hospital of Southern California, before she too was fired in April for expressing concern about coronavirus safety conditions, the suit states. Marquez’s termination occurred while she was attempting to return to work from medical leave .

Hayes, then a 59-year-old radiologist and CT technologist who also is from Azusa, was employed at the hospital for more than 35 years and was fired soon after signing a letter to the Methodist Board of Directors and providing testimony to city officials about coronavirus protocol, the suit states.

In their court papers, defense attorneys denied any liability on the part of the hospital and said the former workers are not entitled to damages. The defense lawyers also maintain the plaintiffs’ causes of action are barred by the statute of limitations.

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