This Bad Boss’ In-Your-Face Fury Sent His Shell-Shocked Nurse to the E.R.
Scott Davidson, a urologist in Grapevine, Texas, stands well over six feet. He’s a muscular man, trained in karate. And when he loomed angrily over Patricia Hahn, as recounted in court records, she feared for her safety.
Dr. Davidson “screamed violently” about the nurse’s supposed incompetence, Ms. Hahn said in court filings, and “punched [toward her] face repeatedly as if he was sparring in one of his martial arts fights.” His fists came within inches of connecting, she testified.
After Ms. Hahn reported his alarming actions — and also called a mental health line in distress — Dr. Davidson confronted her again, she told the court.
“You want to hear yelling?” he asked, standing over her as she cowered back in a chair. “I’ll show you yelling! NOW THIS IS YELLING. THIS IS WHAT REAL YELLING IS!”
Another doctor in the practice dismissed the verbal attacks as “no big deal,” Ms. Hahn said in documents, but the nurse was seriously traumatized. After one bullying incident she had chest pains and was hospitalized for a suspected heart attack.
Who did this to you? a cardiologist asked in concern, according to Ms. Hahn. When she was able to muster an answer, she did so with a new stutter that has dogged her since.
Scott Davidson is our new Bad Boss of the Month.
Ms. Hahn lodged a sex discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and its Texas counterpart, alleging that Dr. Davidson didn’t bully men in the office. North DFW Urology Associates initially put her on administrative leave, but fired her soon afterward on what her lawyers called a pretext — “poor performance.”
Ms. Hahn filed suit in Texas state court against Dr. Davidson and the urology practice. Dr. Davidson told the court that his practice had dealt fairly with someone he called “a fragile human being” — yet a Dallas County jury voted to award Ms. Hahn more than $1 million in damages. Mere minutes before the verdict, Ms. Hahn agreed to settle the case for $440,000, rendering moot an outcome that likely would have been appealed anyhow.
For Ms. Hahn, now 61, the case had been “about standing up to a bully in the workplace,” according to her lawyer, Rogge Dunn of Clouse Dunn LLP. That workplace was described in court documents as “unprofessional and volatile,” since Dr. Davidson was apt to fly into a rage at any moment.
At one point, Ms. Hahn was unable to move a paralyzed patient onto an exam table. Dr. Davidson screamed at her with fists clenched, she said in court documents. The doctor acknowledged that he “raised his voice,” but only after the nurse had a “complete meltdown.”
Dr. Davidson told the court, by way of explaining the incident, that Ms. Hahn “suffers from depression and suicidal tendencies” and incorrectly “believed she had been ‘assaulted.’ ”
Dr. Davidson wasn’t the only issue at North DFW Urology, the jury heard. After a yelling incident, the practice’s office manager told Ms. Hahn she should “quit because they are going to find a way to fire you,” Ms. Hahn said in documents. The doctors would never provide her with a good reference, the manager warned — they had never written a letter of reference for any prior employee.
Another doctor brandished a gun in front of Ms. Hahn, according to her complaint. The gun wasn’t mentioned at trial, but the complaint called it an act of intimidation.
Ms. Hahn began to have “headaches, cold sweats, sleepless nights, and nightmares,” she said in a deposition. According to a psychological evaluation submitted to the court, the workplace hostility appeared to have triggered symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD — and it reactivated her “previously dormant” depression. The evaluation recommended five years of psychotherapy.
Ms. Hahn’s chronic stuttering made it difficult to find a job after she was fired, according to court documents. She went back to school to improve her credentials, however, and now is employed again. She testified that she still stutters when she talks about her experience with Dr. Davidson.
Dr. Davidson, meanwhile, left North DFW Urology a year after Ms. Hahn filed her lawsuit; he now works at a different urology practice.
» Read Ms. Hahn’s original complaint (slightly redacted)
» Read a local account of the trial’s outcome
The Employment Law Group® law firm was not involved in Hahn v. Davidson. We select “Bad Boss” cases to illustrate the continuing relevance of employee protection laws for our newsletter’s audience, which includes attorneys and former TELG clients.
During this case, Ms. Hahn was represented by Clouse Dunn LLP.