Posted On: February 23, 2009 by Peter M. LaSorsa

Nurse Awarded $15 Million in Sexual Harassment Case

Janet Bianco, 55, a nurse at New Yorks Flushing Hospital said she suffered prolonged torment at the hands of Dr. Matthew Miller, ending when he sexually assaulted her at Flushing Hospital in 2001. A jury awarded her $15 million after finding that hospital leadership allowed Dr. Miller who had a history of sexual harassment to continuously harass Bianco. This was the largest sexual harassment award ever in New York.

According to the testimony, Dr. Miller forcibly grabbed Bianco at a cardiac unit nursing station and tried to force his tongue down her throat while the hospital's medical director, Dr. Peter Barra, saw the attack but did nothing to intervene or discipline Dr. Miller. The medical directors reluctance to intervene is a form of retaliation. In another instance Dr. Miller chased Bianco through the halls until he cornered her in a room with two heavily sedated patients, where he aggressively groped her below the waist.

"I only hope out of this whole thing that people become aware. I think that people take it lightly when you say sexual harassment. They don't understand how it affects your life, not only in your job, but in your home, with your friends," Bianco said.

Following Miller's attack on Bianco, the misconduct board from the Office of Professional Medical Conduct suspended Millers license for two months and slapped him with another three years' probation. Miller's admitting privileges at Flushing Hospital were also withdrawn.

The Queens Supreme Court jury ordered the hospital and Miller to each pay half of the massive $15 million judgment--the hospital is planning on appealing the decision. Bianco claims that everybody knew it was an atmosphere of dirty jokes in the hallways and at the nursing station, but no one did anything about it. It was tolerated, Bianco told the Daily News.

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