A Sacramento Superior Court jury has awarded a $730,000 verdict to a former UC Davis administrative nurse who claimed in a lawsuit that her career was ruined when she blew the whistle on an unethical pain management research project on prison inmates.
The jury’s decision came down late Monday in favor of Janet Keyzer, who had worked as an administrative nurse researcher for the UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research for more than nine years at the time of her termination in November 2007.
Keyzer, 59, is a 30-year nurse with a Ph.D. in human and community development, according to her lawsuit. She said she was subject to a series of retaliatory actions after she began work on the university’s Community Oriented Pain-Management Exchange Program in December 2006 and raised questions about whether a research project on physically and mentally disabled inmates at San Quentin Prison had obtained the consent from its “human subjects.”
According to Keyzer’s lawsuit, the project gathered medical data from the patient/inmates’ medical records without their permission and without the approval of the university’s Institutional Review Board that is supposed to review all requests for research on people.
When she expressed her concerns to her supervisor, “Ms. Keyzer was ostracized by COPE management and others at the Center,” her lawsuit said. She said her project manager became “hostile, abusive and rude” toward her.
In June 2007, the plaintiff’s husband, Ken Keyzer, a part-time technical staffer on the COPE project, was fired, the suit said. After the termination, Janet Keyzer directly contacted the Institutional Review Board, and it “confirmed the improprieties Ms. Keyzer identified,” her suit said.