Courtroom Awards Over $374,000 in Legal professional Charges in opposition to Winnebago County for Well being Administrator’s Violation of the Illinois Well being Care Proper of Conscience Act

Excessive charge award places private and non-private healthcare employers on discover

Media Contacts: Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus   Communications; [email protected]; 248.260.8466; Noel Sterett; [email protected]; 815.997.7221

Rockford, Illinois —February 16, 2022—Circuit Courtroom Choose Eugene Doherty issued an lawyer charge award of over $374,000 in opposition to Winnebago County at the moment in a case involving the Illinois Well being Care Proper of Conscience Act.

Legal professional Noel Sterett, a accomplice with the legislation agency of Dalton + Tomich, and his co-counsel, Whitman Brisky and Nathan Noble, filed the case in 2016 on behalf of pediatric nurse Sandra Rojas after she misplaced her job of 18 years on the Winnebago County Public Well being Clinic. In 2015, the County’s Public Well being Administrator, Dr. Sandra Martell, decided that Rojas couldn’t preserve her job on the clinic if she was not prepared to just accept new duties which concerned offering abortion referrals and contraception. Rojas, an observant Catholic, exercised her statutory proper of conscience and misplaced her job because of this.

“The aim of submitting this lawsuit was to make sure that no nurse or physician is ever compelled to refer for abortions—least of all those that entered the occupation to comply with their religion and save lives,” Sterett mentioned. “Healthcare professionals shouldn’t be required to violate their conscience to maintain their jobs. Fortunately, Illinois has legal guidelines that shield a well being care skilled’s proper to not take part within the provision of medical companies which violate their conscience,” Sterett mentioned.

Within the lawyer charge award, the Courtroom famous that the County contested the case “vigorously” over the past 5 years, which solely added to the quantity of lawyer charges incurred within the case. Rojas’ attorneys defeated the County’s numerous efforts to have her claims dismissed and even prevailed when the County appealed to the Appellate Courtroom.

“Nurse Rojas’s case set important precedent and now stands as a seminal case below the Illinois Well being Care Proper of Conscience Act,” Sterett mentioned.  “The Courtroom’s charge award will hopefully encourage different private and non-private well being care employers to respect their staff’ rights of conscience.”

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