A Kenyan doctor was awarded a $2.75 million verdict last month by a Florida jury but a week later, a judge vacated the judgment against Adventist Health System hospital, the state’s second-largest employer.
Dr. Baiywo Rop sued Adventist for discriminating against him because of his race and national origin. His superiors also falsely accused him of drug abuse, the doctor alleged.
“Apparently, they made an assumption that I smoked weed, and I overheard an attending saying, ‘Oh, he needs to stop smoking weed,’” Rop recounted on the latest episode of the Law&Crime podcast “Objections: with Adam Klasfeld. “So here am I, I am having a disease that could easily kill me—it’s a cheap disease to diagnose, it’s very cheap to treat—but it kills people.”
Here’s more from Law & Crime:
A Kenyan native, Dr. Rop pursued his radiology residency in Florida Hospital, run by the state’s largest employer: Adventist. He says he graduated medical school in 2012 before being accepted for a radiology residency the next year. Then, during his third year in the program, Rop was diagnosed with severe pernicious anemia, and he says that his employer would not accommodate his condition. In 2017, Rop sued the parent company in the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Orange County, Florida, ultimately winning a sizable verdict. Then, a week later, Judge Kevin Weiss of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Florida overruled the jury’s decision, finding there were “legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons” for Dr. Rop’s dismissal.
During the Law&Crime podcast, Dr. Rop and his lawyer Jerry Girley explained that they used the passage about the proverbial “bank of justice” from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” to support their case during the trial.
“So what we said to the jury is, ‘Look, here we are again at the Bank of Justice,’” Girley said on the podcast. “Promises have been made. You have the authority, the ability to pay this check. It is a payment on a promise that was made hundreds of years ago. It is a payment on the notion the concept of equality before the law.”
Girley channeled King’s speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963.
“What we said to the jury is, ‘Dr. Rop is not here seeking a handout, and he traveled a great distance from Kenya to get to this point,” Girley says on the podcast. “He has a dream of becoming a radiologist, he has not abandoned that dream. That dream is on hold, you can help him move forward.”
Hear more about the case via the podcast below:
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