Dillon v. Suffolk County Dept. of Health Services


New York Law Journal


Judge Arthur Spatt

Dillon, a doctor, was a high-ranking Suffolk County public health employee. She was transferred to the county's jail, and assigned to its medical unit (JMU) in 2007. She sought damages, and other relief, based on adverse employment actions including but not limited to suspension without pay, and disciplinary charges against her in retaliation for statements to county officials about her concerns over the deliberate indifference of medical treatment and abuse of prisoners at the county jail, the alteration and destruction of medical records, and possible misuse of medications. Despite granting Suffolk County's health services department and its codefendants summary judgment dismissing Dillon's state law cause of action asserting violation of New York's whistle-blower statute, the court denied them summary judgment on her First Amendment retaliation claim. Dillon's statements concerned a matter of public concern, and were spoken as a private citizen, and were therefore protected by the First Amendment. Further, the limited time period between Dillon's complaints about prisoner patient treatment and the adverse actions taken against her demonstrated a causal connection, and established a prima facie case of retaliation.

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