SANTA ANA, Calf. (April 23, 2019)— An Orange County jury found The UC Regents and the former Dean of the School of Medicine responsible for violating whistleblower protection laws against a neurosurgeon who filed a grievance through the UC Irvine Academic Senate against his supervisors which involved concerns over abuse of power, economic waste, violations of UC policy and patient safety and quality of patient care. On Monday, the plaintiff Mark Linskey, M.D., a tenured full professor at the UC Irvine School of Medicine and the former Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery, obtained a $2 million judgment for damages.
The lawsuit involved the former Dean, Ralph Clayman, M.D. and the former Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery who together, pushed to have Dr. Linskey moved out from his home department of Neurosurgery and switched to the Department of General Surgery.
Evidence at trial exposed how the school’s Neurosurgery Department was more concerned with increasing the volume of patients instead of quality of care. Attorneys argued that when Dr. Linskey raised concerns about patient safety due to evidence of poor surgical outcomes and unnecessary procedures, he was punished.
“Instead of doing the right thing, the university went after the whistleblower which is baffling to me,” said lead plaintiff lawyer Mark Quigley. “Our client exposed these, and other violations and was unfairly punished for speaking out,” added Quigley.
Over the course of the nearly month long trial, the plaintiff’s legal team outlined how the UC Regents retaliated against Dr. Linskey by getting him kicked out of the neurosurgery department and being cut off from all resident teaching contact. Clayman went to the highest levels of the university, including the Chancellors and the CEO, in an attempt to move Dr. Linskey out of the Department of Neurosurgery.
“Our client suffered damage to his professional reputation and standing within the UC Irvine community and the national academic neurosurgery community,” said plaintiff attorney Ivan Puchalt. “This verdict holds the medical school and the UC Regents accountable for failing to protect an employee from this kind of workplace retaliation,” added Puchalt.
Former Dean Ralph Clayman had previously undergone investigation by the OC Register in a “O.C. Watchdog” investigatory piece January 2014 headlined, “Ex-UCI Doctors: Whistleblowing Drew Retribution”. Mike Baker of the Seattle Times won the prestigious Selden Ring journalism award in 2018 for investigating the former Chair of neurosurgery at UC Irvine for subsequent behavior at Seattle’s Swedish-Cherry Hill Hospital in a series entitled, “Quantity of Care” that led to resignations as well as patient care reforms at that hospital.