Jury awards $100K; woman says she lost job over Flint data
Flint – A jury awarded $100,000 to a woman who lost her job after refusing to falsify results of blood tests for children who were exposed to lead-contaminated water in Flint, a lawyer said Tuesday.
April Cook-Hawkins worked for four to five months at the Genesee County health department before being forced to quit in 2016, Carol Laughbaum said.
The department said Cook-Hawkins was ousted over her performance, but the jury didn’t accept that reason last Friday and awarded $100,000 for emotional distress, Laughbaum said.
“They said she wasn’t a team player. Virtually nothing at trial showed she wasn’t a team player,” the lawyer said.
Cook-Hawkins told jurors that she was directed to record lead-level results that she knew were inaccurate.
“The county had two sets of records: Blue sheets with actual testing data and doctored versions, white sheets, with handwritten corrections showing perfect lead levels,” Laughbaum said.
A message seeking comment was left for the trial lawyer who represented nurse director Toni LaRocco. She is no longer at the health department.
Flint residents were exposed to lead when the city pulled water from the Flint River in 2014-15 without treating it to reduce the corrosive effect on old pipes. The city returned to a regional water supplier in fall 2015.