UMDNJ Hit with $1.6 Million Jury Verdict for Unlawful Retaliation

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A five week trial in the case of Neelu Pal, M.D., vs. UMDNJ, MID-L-1297-10, Middlesex County Court, State of New Jersey has resulted in a jury verdict in favor of Neelu Pal, M.D., Plaintiff, in the amount of $1.6 million. By Jacob Hafter, Esq., of the Law Offices of Jacob Hafter & Associates, attorney for Neelu Pal, M.D., Plaintiff.

After a five week-long discrimination and retaliation trial in the Middlesex County Superior Court before the Honorable Judge Phillip L. Paley, last Friday, April 12, 2013, a jury returned a verdict of $1.6 million in favor of Neelu Pal, M.D., a 42 year old board certified general surgeon of eastern Indian descent.

After a day of deliberation, the jury found that Dr. Pal was the victim of retaliation as a result of numerous complaints to her program director, Peter Scholz, M.D., and other management of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey ("UMDNJ").    

Jacob Hafter, Esq., counsel for Dr. Pal commented that "the jury verdict was well reasoned and thoughtful and fair to both sides. The jury recognized from the evidence that we presented that UMDNJ and several of its physicians and staff acted unlawfully against Dr. Pal."

Evidence at trial showed that in July, 2008, Dr. Pal began her cardiothoracic fellowship at MDNJ. Within a few months Dr. Pal began hearing allegedly discriminatory comments about her gender and national origin. Despite her complaints, the alleged behavior continued. In October, 2008, George Batsides, M.D., a faculty member in the program, is alleged to have told Dr. Pal that “women shouldn’t be cardiothoracic surgeons,” before he kicked her out of his operating room. Within less than a week after Dr. Pal complained, the faculty of the program met and decided to dismiss her from the program. The alleged harassing behavior continued until February, 2009, when Dr. Pal had no choice but to leave the program.

The jury verdict includes compensation for past and future lost income as well as the emotional pain and suffering which the jury believed that Dr. Pal suffered as a result of the unlawful conduct of UMDNJ. “The money, however, is not why I sued UMDNJ,” stated Dr. Pal. “No one should have to suffer what I have for the past five years.” Under the Law Against Discrimination, Plaintiff will also be entitled to an award of attorneys fees and costs.

by Jacob Hafter, Esq., of the Law Offices of Jacob Hafter & Associates, attorney for Neelu Pal, M.D., Plaintiff.

Neelu Pal, M.D., vs. UMDNJ, MID-L-1297-10, Middlesex County Court, State of New Jersey

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Jacob Hafter
jhafter@hafterlaw.com
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