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Texas Health Resources Says Ebola Nurse Nina Pham's Lawsuit Should Be Dismissed

Texas Health Resources Facebook
Dallas nurse Nina Pham waves goodbye to staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas before departing for NIH in Maryland last fall.

An attorney for one of the two nurses who contracted Ebola at a Dallas hospital last fall says her client is going ahead with plans to sue her employer.

This comes days after the hospital asked a judge to throw out her suit.

Nina Pham is like family, says Texas Health Resources spokesman Wendell Watson. 

“Nina Pham has gone through an unprecedented challenge,” he says. “We’ll continue to show her the utmost dignity, respect and courtesy as a member of the Texas Health family.”

Last month, Pham sued the hospital claiming negligence and poor training. And on Friday, the hospital filed its response, saying Presbyterian acted responsibly to protect and train its staff. Pham and others cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died from Ebola at the Dallas hospital last October.

“System and hospital administration actively sought and utilized the most up to date guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control,” Watson says. “We also coordinated with leading experts at Emory University Hospital to determine and provide the best possible care for Ebola patients.”

He adds that Presbyterian respected Pham’s privacy, and released information about her only with her consent. 

Credit Texas Health Resources Facebook.
Hospital workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas wave goodbye to Nina Pham as she is transferred to NIH in Maryland last fall.

But Charla Aldous, who represents the 26-year-old nurse, says this response is a big disappointment.

“We were not shocked,” she says. “We believe that it is further affirmation that it’s necessary to file this lawsuit, because Nina is adamant that she wants the truth to come out. And for Texas Health Resources to come clean with exactly what happened, so that the health care community can learn from the mistakes made.” 

Texas Health Presbyterian argues Pham’s claims are out of its jurisdiction, saying she was an ICU nurse -- making her case a workers’ compensation claim. Not so, says her attorney.  

“We are filing a response to that now,” Aldous says. “I think they are absolutely wrong. We quite frankly anticipated that might be something they would argue. But we do not think it’s a legally sound argument under these circumstances.”

Aldous will soon ask Texas Health Resources for specifics about the jurisdiction matter, and expects to start discovery – collecting documents and deposing witnesses who have information on how Pham contracted Ebola.

Doualy Xaykaothao is a newscaster and reporter for NPR, based in Culver City. She returned to NPR for this role in 2018, and is responsible for writing, producing, and delivering national newscasts. She also reports on breaking news stories for NPR.