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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Hospital Claims Union Went Too Far

LAS VEGAS (CN) - An IBEW local defamed a Las Vegas hospital that hired nonunion contractors by posting a sign: "Danger 1 out of 10 People Die at This Hospital," the hospital claims in court.

Dignity Health Medical Group sued IBEW Local 357 (the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) on Nov. 19, in Clark County Court.

Dignity Health owns and operates three St. Rose Dominican Hospitals in Clark County.

In 2012 it hired Kitchell Construction to build an expansion to its Siena Campus hospital in Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas. The expansion is expected to be completed in 2016.

Kitchell Construction is a nonunion company and hired a nonunion contractor to handle the electrical work, Dignity says.

Beginning June 19, the IBEW placed a large banner on a corner in front of the hospital, stating: "DANGER 1 OUT OF 10 PEOPLE DIE AT THIS HOSPITAL," according to the complaint. It says the banner included depictions of a coffin and two tombstones.

"The information on the banner was completely false" and was displayed at least a dozen times through Aug. 12 at a busy intersections, Dignity Health says.

It claims the union also distributed flyers that stated: "1 out of 10 people DIE at Siena Campus, Death [sic] among patients with serious treatable complications."

At the bottom of the flyers is the phrase: "Brought to you by the IBEW Union Local 357 Information Department," according to the lawsuit.

The flyers referred readers to a website, HospitalSafetyScore.org, which does not substantiate the union's claims, Dignity Health says.

It claims the IBEW posted the banner "despite its knowledge of the falsehood of the statement." When Dignity asked the union, through counsel, to cease and desist displaying the "knowingly false and defamatory" information, the IBEW repeated the false claim about 1 in 10 patients dying, the hospital says.

Dignity Health seeks punitive damages for business disparagement and tortious interference with prospective business relationships.

Officials for IBEW Local 357 did not return a call seeking comment.

The hospital is represented by James Winkler and Noel Eidsmore with Littler Mendelson.

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