MetroHealth System calls lawsuit against Cuyahoga County over jail conditions ‘unfounded and defamatory’

MetroHealth System calls lawsuit against Cuyahoga County over jail conditions ‘unfounded and defamatory’
Cuyahoga County Jail (Source: woio)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The MetroHealth System is pushing back after a lawsuit was filed against Cuyahoga County over jail conditions.

The hospital system issued a statement on Thursday in response to the former MetroHealth nurse’s claims, calling the lawsuit “unfounded and defamatory.”

In part, the statement reads:

The MetroHealth System is – and has been – committed to ensuring the health and safety of the men and women in the Cuyahoga County jail. That’s why we entered into the contract to provide physicians and other providers to the jail as of 2011. That’s why, as early as 2016, we advocated for a comprehensive role in the oversight and staffing of medical operations at the jail. That’s why, in November 2018, we retained the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to advise MetroHealth and the County as to needed changes in operations. And, that’s why, in May 2019, we assumed an expanded oversight and staffing role for health care at the jail. None of this has been profitable. This is our mission and has come at great cost to MetroHealth.

We have respect for Mr. Brack and his work on behalf of MetroHealth in caring for the detainees. He was a valued employee of MetroHealth and we never contemplated or desired his transfer out of the jail. We did so at the demand of our client. We tried to keep Gary at MetroHealth in comparable positions and continue to wish he was a part of our team.

The lawsuit will sort out the legal issues, but MetroHealth will not sit back and permit Mr. Chandra’s unfounded and defamatory statements to be left unaddressed. While many of his assertions are patently false, Mr. Chandra disregards facts and instead chooses to smear and grossly mislead. Unfortunately, we have seen this from Mr. Chandra before.

The lawsuit filed by the law offices of Subodh Chandra on behalf of Gary Brack claims he was wrongfully terminated in 2018 after he highlighted problems at the jail during a Cuyahoga County council meeting.

Those issues brought up by Brack were also defined in an investigative report compiled by the U.S. Marshals Service.

According to MetroHealth, inaccurate claims in the lawsuit include:

A. Mr. Chandra suggested that MetroHealth’s contract with the County precluded the County from demanding the removal of MetroHealth staff from the jail, and he went on to quote language from a contract. However, the contract he quoted was the new contract that was put into place just this month. And the language he quoted was specifically added by MetroHealth under the new agreement to prevent this exact type of situation from happening again.

B. Mr. Chandra repeatedly stated that MetroHealth is driven by profits and money in providing care in the jail. Mr. Chandra has no knowledge of any facts regarding whether the contract is profitable. And, in fact, it is not. MetroHealth has never profited from its jail contracts.

C. Mr. Chandra suggested that MetroHealth violated Mr. Brack’s First Amendment rights. He misconstrues normal preparations for an official presentation to County Council into something nefarious. We recognize and respect everyone’s First Amendment rights. As MetroHealth conveyed to Mr. Brack at the time, we had no issue with the substance of his statements to County Council. Indeed, consistent with the issues Mr. Brack raised at the Council hearing, MetroHealth had been advocating for changes in jail policies and procedures to enhance detainee and staff safety for more than a year prior to the Council meeting.

Since June of 2018, at least nine inmates died while at the jail.

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