Means Girls: State Hospital Style

We often hear stories of youngsters in high school making up rumors about each other out of retaliation for one thing or another. Sometimes, those high school tactics become prevalent in the real world too.

Melody Jo Samuelson began working for Napa State Hospital as an assessment psychologist in 2006. Her job function was to accurately assess criminally accused patients of their ability and fitness to stand trial. Ms. Samuelson soon realized that her job was not so much about actually assessing the patients, as it was to go through an easy checklist of characteristics.

James Jones, the hospital’s chief psychologist seemed determined to increase the hospital’s positive “outcome stats” and pump out patients who were “fit to stand trial.” Therefore, he manipulated the hospital’s assessment procedures, significantly lowering assessment standards, to reach his goal.

In 2008, Ms. Samuelson was subpoenaed to testify that these methods were true. The case involved a patient who was wrongly cleared fit to stand trial. Ms. Samuelson spoke of Mr. Jones’ methods, sparking a wave of retaliation against her.

After her testimony, two of Ms. Samuelson’s fellow employees created an elaborate scheme to frame her of extortion and committing perjury. These allegations got Ms. Samuelson fired.

Upon pursuing a suit against Napa State Hospital, it was found that the two employees had indeed fabricated these accusations. Ms. Samuelson was awarded $890,000 in punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and awards. Each employee was ordered to pay $30,000 and $50,000.

If you feel you’ve been terminated for “whistle blowing,” contact one of our employees.