Sutter Wins Defamation Case Against Union
A jury on Friday ruled that the labor union Unite Here had defamed Sutter Health with a mass mailing of postcards that claimed the hospital system's linens were unclean, the Oakland Tribune reports. The jury awarded Sutter nearly $17.3 million in damages, but the union -- which represents hotel, restaurant and laundry workers -- said it will appeal.
The union last year sent the postcards to "women of child-bearing" age, the Tribune reports. At the time, the union was in a labor dispute with the laundry service that cleaned Sutter's linens.
Gordon Hunt, chief medical officer for Sutter, said in a statement that the postcards had led to a number of calls from patients concerned about the allegations. Hunt said Sutter has "strict quality assurance processes in place to ensure our linens meet our high quality and safety standards."
However, union spokesperson Amanda Cooper said, "The court record shows that the problems we were alerting customers to were real" (Oakland Tribune, 7/23).