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Karimi v. Donovick

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

March 29, 2019

DR. FARID KARIMI, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. ROGER DONOVICK, in his official and individual capacities; SHERI DAWSON, in her individual capacity; and MARK LABOUCHARDIERE, in his individual capacity; Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          LAURIE SMITH CAMP SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 44, filed by Defendants Sheri Dawson and Mark LaBouchardiere, in their individual capacities. For the reasons stated below, the Motion will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are a summary of those alleged in the Amended Complaint, ECF No. 24, and assumed true for the purposes of the Motion to Dismiss. Defendant State of Nebraska operates the Lincoln Regional Center (“LRC”), an entity responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with mental health issues. Plaintiff Dr. Farid Karimi works as a forensic psychiatrist at the LRC and other locations. In February 2016, LRC hired Karimi to perform forensic evaluations for the courts, to assist with training psychiatric residents in forensic rotation, and to establish a forensic fellowship program. Karimi properly performed all duties and assignments.

         Defendant Stacey Sweeney was a State of Nebraska employee and functioned as the LRC Chief Operating Officer. She was supervised by Defendant Sheri Dawson, a Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) employee. Defendant Dr. Roger Donovick was LRC Chief Medical Officer. Defendant Mark LaBouchardiere is the current DHHS Facilities Director and has been in charge of LRC since February 2018.

         After several months of employment, Karimi noted procedural and/or medical irregularities occurring at LRC. He reported these violations to Donovick, Sweeney, and/or Dawson. At LRC, Karimi provided programs and services for patients with disabilities. Most of these patients were not aware of their rights under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 701-796.[1] Karimi “has protested to . . . Dawson and LaBouchardiere, the denial of these program benefits to disabled patients he has treated.” Am. Compl., ECF No. 24, Page ID 87. Karimi alleges that “Defendants took no action to correct the deficiencies cited by Plaintiff, and engaged in retaliatory conduct against him for reporting said deficiencies.”

         Specifically, Karimi alleges Defendants, under the direction of Donovick and Sweeney and with the approval of Dawson and later LaBouchardiere:

1) followed outdated treatment policies and refused to re-evaluate or put into place policies and procedures to secure patient safety and well-being;
2) failed to use highly restrictive status restraints on patients requiring this status which resulted in repeated assaults and injuries to LRC employees;
3) allowed the assistant director of nursing to follow the orders of non-medical psychologists which disturbed the proper performance of medical activities and procedures vital to patient care;
4) failed to follow the level of security required for patient monitoring; and
5) through staff psychologists, requested forced medication orders from the court for one of Karimi's patients without informing the attending psychiatrist.

         Karimi also alleges that one or more of the Defendants:

1) changed patient orders dictated by attending physicians, such as discharging patients or removing them from suicide watch (Sweeney and Donovick);
2) inaccurately charted time with patients, and unnecessarily denied visitation rights to some patients (Sweeney and Donovick);
3) told staff not to listen to or follow Karimi's orders (Donovick);
4) interfered with Karimi's patient relations[2] (Sweeney);
5) allowed improper distribution of the controlled substance Ambien to Karimi's patients without Karimi's knowledge (State of Nebraska, Sweeney, and Dawson);
6) moved dangerous patients admitted under Karimi's name from in-patient to residential beds in violation of Court orders (Sweeney with Donovick and Dawson's approval);
7) housed mentally challenged and disabled individuals without providing them with necessary and appropriate needed services (State of Nebraska); and
8) jeopardized patient care by not following the recommendations of physicians and outside consultants (State of Nebraska).

         Karimi also reported general concerns about the functioning of LRC which included:

1) assignment of a psychologist to oversee the medical units which should have been run by medical doctors;
2) use of job threats to staff to cover management deficiencies, such as ordering minutes of official meetings to be changed and authorizing documents suggesting nurses were working when they were not;
3) assignment of psychologists without medical expertise to be supervisors in charge of medical and psychological patient treatment, resulting in psychiatrists ...

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