Two Former Winkler County Nurses Go on the Offensive

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

WINKLER COUNTY--They were charged for leaking private medical information, now they've filed a civil suit in federal court.

All the names listed as defendants in the upcoming civil trial, played a large role in Anne Mitchell's criminal case.  Attorneys for Mitchell and Vicki Galle say, it's a means to make up for the damage caused by a case that should never have gone to trial in the first place.

According to co--counsel John Cook, "If we do not allow our medical professionals to voice concern about substandard care, people will die."

Cook spoke as passionately after the trial as he did during.  He voiced his outrage over the fact, two women were arrested, simply for doing their job.

"A person who has a right, that has been given to them by the Constitution and by the laws of our state, should never be punished for exercising that right," he commented.

The  civil suit, filed in August, in a Pecos Federal Court, alleges a conspiracy between the seven defendants, against Galle and Mitchell, stemming from their reports to the Texas Medical Board against Dr. Rolando Arafiles.

"In the course of depositions and discovery, all these individuals are going to have to answer as to why they've conducted themselves the way they have.  They accused these two innocent people of what's going on,"  co-counsel Brian Carney said.

The law suit goes on to say, "The defendants have violated the Texas Whistleblower statute, the Texas Occupational Code, the Texas Health and Safety Code and have interfered with the plaintiffs' business relationship and at will employment."

Attorneys say the nurse's were denied their civil rights, including freedom of speech and due process.

Winkler County Attorney Scott Tidwell, who prosecuted Mitchell's case, is named in the law suit.
"I look forward to handling the civil suit.  It will be done a little bit differently than the criminal case.  The civil suit is in Federal Court in Pecos and it will work it's way through, just like it's designed to do there, too," he said.

Although the damage has been done, Cook hopes for a positive outcome in this case as well, "I expect to get justice out of the civil trial.  I expect for these ladies to be made whole.  That's all we seek."

In addition to getting their jobs back at Winkler County Memorial Hospital, Galle and Mitchell's attorneys are asking for the largest amount of monetary damages allowed by law.