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Utah Professor Wins Damages in Whistleblower Protections Case

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A federal court in Salt Lake City on Wednesday held University of Utah guilty of violating legal whistleblower protections.

Judith Zimmerman, an assistant professor of psychiatry and former data registry director, has been awarded $119,640 in damages by the court in lost wages, which includes attorney’s fee.

Zimmerman sued the university in December 2013, alleging it of retaliating by not renewing her employment contract after she raised questions against the researcher’s access of Utah children’s medical records without approval from Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

She further alleged a university employee of copying the private medical data in violation of privacy and confidentiality agreements.

The court ruled in her favor in a separate claim that former psychiatry chairman William McMahon terminated her employment contract by falsifying the job performance.

“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,” Zimmerman’s attorney April Hollingsworth said.

Zimmerman said that she was relieved after the court ruled in her favor.

“After such a lengthy legal battle, I am just relieved to be done and to have my claim validated by a jury.”

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