Utah nurse arrested for refusing to break hospital policy wins $500,000 settlement

Utah nurse Alex Wubbel, whose arrest for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient gained nationwide attention, has reached a $500,000 settlement with Salt Lake City and the University of Utah, the owner of the hospital where she is employed.

The Salt Lake Tribune reporte that Wubbel’s attorney Karra Fink gave a press conference Tuesday to announce the agreement, which covers all involved parties and removes the possibility of legal action.

 “There will be no lawsuit,” Fink said, further noting that Wubbel will use part of the settlement payment to help individuals obtain police bodycam footage of incidents in which they were involved, at no cost. She also said that her law firm, Christensen & Jensen, will offer pro bono services to those attempting to obtain video evidence.

In her statement, Wubbel referenced the widespread impact of the release of the video of her July 26 forcible arrest.

“We all deserve to know the truth and the truth comes when you see the actual raw footage and that’s what happened in my case.  No matter how truthful I was in telling my story, it was nothing compared to what people saw and the visceral reaction people experienced when watching the footage of the experience that I went through.”

Wubbel said she planned to donate to the Utah Nurses Association, and she has also joined with the American Nurses Association to promote the initiative #EndNurseAbuse, stating in a guest post on the association’s website Tuesday that nurses are more likely than prison guards or police officers to experience workplace violence.

In the post, Wubbel acknowledged “the support of my organization, community, and a tribe of fellow nurses during this difficult time,” and explained that her experience inspired her to help protect other nurses.

“I truly believe that what happened to me can lead to positive change in our profession. That’s why I decided to speak out: to stop this abuse from happening to others. I’ve teamed up with ANA to ask you to sign our pledge and stop this culture of violence.”

The video of the incident, released by Wubbel’s attorney on August 31, caused widespread outrage.  In the footage, Salt Lake Police Detective Payne is seen handcuffing Wubbel and dragging her to a police vehicle outside, while Wubbel exclaims “I’ve done nothing wrong!”

Wubbel sat in the police vehicle for about 20 minutes before she was released without charges.

The confrontation occurred after the nurse, citing hospital policy, refused to draw a blood sample from unconscious crash victim William Gray, who later succumbed to his injuries and died on September 25.  Wubbel explained to police that none of the three required hospital criteria were met in the request for the blood sample: patient’s consent, a judge’s order, or the arrest of the patient.

Payne was fired from his job on October 10 after an Internal Affairs investigation.  His superior, Lieutenant James Tracey, was demoted to the rank of officer.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that both Payne and Tracey have appealed the decisions to the Salt Lake City Civil Service Commission.


[Feature image: Today show screenshot]