Former PCSD Nurse's Lawsuit Against The District Moves Forward

Sep 27, 2018

A former nurse with the Park City School District, Nicole Kennedy, scored a victory Wednesday in her lawsuit against the District.

In oral arguments, the District asked for the suit to be thrown out on Summary Judgment. Third District Court Judge Richard Mrasik denied that for three of the major claims from Kennedy. He did throw out two other claims.

In her lawsuit, filed in 2016, Kennedy alleged that she was the victim of retaliation from the district--and ultimately her contract wasn't renewed--because she had criticized the nursing program. She had also supported the discrimination complaint of a parent with a diabetic student.

However, the District has replied that Kennedy was let go because she was disruptive, hostile to other nurses and made sensational, unsubstantiated complaints.

After oral arguments were made in Judge Mrazik's Salt Lake courtroom for nearly two hours, he retired for about 15 minutes and came back with a ruling.

The judge noted that Summary Judgment has to meet an exacting standard--since it's a finding that there are no disputes of fact that should be sent to a jury.

With that, the Judge refused to throw out three of Kennedy's claims. Those are, that school district officials violated the state's Whistleblower law--that Kennedy's First Amendment Rights were violated--and that there was a violation of the Americans With Disability Act, which says there cannot be retaliation against a person who opposes discrimination under that law.

Kennedy's attorney, April Hollingsworth, told KPCW those are the claims they wanted to preserve.

The judge did throw out two other claims--asserting that the District committed a Breach of Contract, and Breached a Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.

The lawsuit names Superintendent Ember Conley and Associate Superintendent Tom Van Gorder, who have since left the district.

A third defendant, Director of Human Resources Tim McConnell, was in the courtroom. He declined to make a a comment after the ruling, as did the School District's attorney, Alain Balmanno from the Attorney General's office.

Nicole Kennedy also was in court. After the ruling, she embraced her attorney, with tears in her eyes, and said she's happy and relieved that the case is moving on.

“It is a good news day. I think it is a good news day for the Park City School District as well honestly." Kennedy said, "I think the kids are safer and I love the district and I hope to once again be a nurse there. I miss it every day.”

The judge also asked both sides if they will consider mediation, before a trial date is set in the case. Kennedy and Hollingsworth said they're willing to consider that.

“Of course." Kennedy replied, "It’s just never been on the table before but of course we’re open to that.”

Hollingsworth added, “Yeah, they’ve never had an interest in it but we’re always up for mediation.”