Nurse Anne Mitchell’s Whistleblowing Almost Blew Out Whistleblowing in Texas


The Winkler County nurses trials began with two nurses, Anne Mitchell and Vicki Galle, filing an anonymous complaint with the Texas Medical Board regarding the substandard care provided by Dr. Rolando Arafiles Jr. When Arafiles learned of the complaint, he complained of harassment to a friend and former patient, who happened to be the county sheriff. The Sheriff investigated and went to the prosecutor, who filed felony charges against Mitchell and Galle for misuse of official information, a third-degree felony carrying the possibility of two to 10 years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine. Galle's charges were eventually dropped and a jury found Mitchell not guilty.

Nurse Mitchell was protected by Texas whistleblowing statutes

The Texas Whistleblower Act provides legal protection from retaliation and legal rights to public employees who alert a law enforcement authority about certain violations of laws by the employing governmental entity or another public employee. However, the nurses were private employees and were not protected under the act. The nurses were, however, protected under another whistleblowing statute.

Shortly after the hospital terminated their employment because they filed the complaint to the Texas Medical Board, the nurses filed a federal lawsuit seeking injunctive and compensatory relief for illegal retaliation in violation of the Texas Nursing Practice Act. They also sought relief for violations of rights of free speech and due process. The Texas Nurses Practice Act is a whistleblower law to provide remedies for individuals who suffer retaliation for protected activities such as patient advocacy — e.g., reporting concerns about a doctor's standard of care.

Note that while the Texas whistleblower statutes provide civil protection to those reporting misconduct, nothing protects a Texas whistleblower from a criminal action. The legal significance of whistleblowers facing criminal charges for exercising their statutory rights is profound.

Posted in Employee Rights | Tagged texas nursing practice act, texas whistleblower act, texas whistleblower attorney, whistleblower lawyer

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Whistleblower Law for Managers | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Whistleblower Law for Managers on:

JD Supra Readers' Choice 2016 Awards
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.