Salt Lake City, UT (Aug. 29, 2018)—On Aug. 29, 2018, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Judith Pinbourgh Zimmerman on a claim brought under the Utah Whistleblower Act. After five years of litigation, Dr. Zimmerman finally got her day in court and prevailed on one of two claims brought against the University of Utah and Dr. William McMahon, the former Chair of the Department of Psychiatry.
As a speech language pathologist, Dr. Zimmerman spent her career seeking answers for children with autism. In 2005, Dr. Zimmerman accepted a faculty position at the University of Utah Department of Psychiatry and was named director of the Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities (“URADD”). As a database, URADD collected data about children with autism in several counties in Utah, including protected health information and personally identifiable data.
In 2012, Dr. Zimmerman was concerned that researchers at the University had accessed the data contained within URADD without the proper authorizations. After Dr. Zimmerman reported these concerns to multiple different offices at the University, Dr. McMahon informed her that her yearly contract would not be renewed.
In a seven-day jury trial, Dr. Zimmerman went head-to-head with the University and Dr. McMahon. On Wednesday, a jury found in favor of Dr. Zimmerman on her Whistleblower claim and awarded her $119,000 for lost wages, plus costs and attorneys’ fees. “After such a lengthy legal battle, I am just relieved to be done and to have my claim validated by a jury,” said Dr. Zimmerman.
Dr. Zimmerman was represented at trial by April Hollingsworth, of Hollingsworth Law Office. “Whistleblower claims are notoriously difficult to win so I am pleased the jury saw that the University retaliated against Dr. Zimmerman for making valid complaints of possible research misconduct,” said Ms. Hollingsworth.
For more information, contact April Hollingsworth at (801) 415-9909 or [email protected].
Hollingsworth Law Office is a law office in Salt Lake City, specializing in plaintiff’s-side employment law.