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Former jail nursing director Gary Brack sues County Executive Budish, MetroHealth CEO Boutros, others for First Amendment retaliation

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Suit alleges that County Executive Budish, MetroHealth CEO Boutros, other officials, County, and MetroHealth conspired to end his employment after he sounded the alarm about dangerous jail conditions that led to nine deaths.

Former jail nursing director Gary Brack sues County Executive Budish, MetroHealth CEO Boutros, others for First Amendment retaliation

Gary Brack, R.N., with his attorney Subodh Chandra, describes the inhumane jail conditions at Cuyahoga County's jail, the lives at risk, and the retaliation he faced from County Executive Armond Budish and MetroHealth CEO Akram Boutros for blowing the whistle on these matters to County Council.

CLEVELAND, OH — Yesterday, Gary Brack, R.N.—former interim ambulatory-care director for the Cuyahoga County jail—filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas a civil-rights complaint against County Executive Armond Budish, MetroHealth’s CEO Akram Boutros, former Regional Director of Corrections Ken Mills, Cuyahoga County, The MetroHealth System, and Boutros’s chief of staff Jane Platten.

The suit alleges claims for conspiracy to violate civil rights, First Amendment retaliation, and civil liabilty for various criminal acts against Brack, including interfering with civil and statutory rights, obstruction of official business, retaliation against a public servant in the discharge of his duties, complicity, and related civil claims.

Nurse Brack was a MetroHealth employee detailed to the Cuyahoga County Corrections Center as part of Metro’s contract to provide medical care at the jail.

According to the complaint, the retaliation began after Nurse Brack spoke during a May 22, 2018 County Council committee meeting. He truthfully responded to councilmembers’ questions about the existing conditions in the jail, raising his concerns about the healthcare crisis—concerns he had raised internally to no avail.

His lawsuit claims that Budish then requested that Boutros remove Brack from his role, and Boutros obliged.

The complaint alleges that

  • Mills spurned the expertise of the medical staff in favor of carrying out Budish’s orders to cut costs at all costs while increasing the jail population without attending to housing, medical, or staffing concerns.
  • Mills frequently bragged about running the jail, and issued operational directives despite Sheriff Pinckney’s authority to manage jail operations.
  • Mills’s drive to cut costs put medical staff and inmates’ safety at risk.

Since Nurse Brack was removed after making his prescient comments to County Council, nine inmates have died in custody, the last one just this month. Mills resigned in the run up to a scathing report from the United States Marshal’s office excoriating the jail’s mismanagement.

Nurse Brack’s lead counsel Subodh Chandra said, “It is time for Cuyahoga County to reckon with the unmitigated disaster of our local jail’s mismanagement. We need more kind and courageous public servants like Nurse Gary Brack, who was targeted for speaking up to protect his patients. He intends to hold accountable those who tried to silence him.”

Former jail nursing director Gary Brack sues County Executive Budish, MetroHealth CEO Boutros, others for First Amendment retaliation

The case is captioned Gary Brack, R.N. v. Budish, et al. Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-19-915706, and is assigned to Judge Ashley Kilbane. The complaint can be found here.

Nurse Brack and his counsel will hold a press conference about the suit:

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 1:00 pm
The Chandra Law Firm LLC
The Chandra Law Building
1265 W. 6th St., Suite 400
Cleveland, OH 44113
Credentialed media only. Open for set up by camera operators at 12:45 pm.

Subodh Chandra and Brian Bardwell of The Chandra Law Firm LLC represent Mr. Brack.

UPDATE: Here is the press conference.

Lawyers for Defendants MetroHealth, MetroHealth CEO Dr. Akram Boutros, and MetroHealth chief of staff Jane Platten have complained about the opinions expressed in the press conference regarding Nurse Brack's suit. Here is their letter and our firm's response.

Related Practice Areas
Employment RetaliationFirst AmendmentGovernment Ethics, Misconduct, Fraud, & Abuse

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