SANTA ANA — A settlement has been reached in the lawsuit filed by Army National Guard nurse who claimed she was fired from her civilian job after being called to active duty in the Persian Gulf.
Steven D. Stern, a spokesman for the public relations firm of Sitrick and Company Inc., announced in a terse statement that "an amicable agreement" had been reached between Capt. Debra M. Simpson and her former employer, Care Visions Corp. He declined further comment Thursday and details of the settlment were not released.
Neither Simpson, of Santa Ana, nor her attorneys could be reached for comment Thursday. Care Visions Corp. would not comment beyond the announcement.
Simpson's lawyers filed a civil suit on Nov. 15 in Orange County Superior Court charging that Simpson had been fired illegally by Care Visions, which operates a Santa Ana care center for chronically ill or disabled children called the Kangaroo Kids Center for Fragile Children. Simpson was the health care administrator at the facility when she was called to active duty in the Army National Guard last August.
Simpson said she informed her superiors that she would be back from active duty on Oct. 3. She said she went to work that day but was fired a few hours after she arrived. Simpson said she was told by Julia Bell, Care Visions Corp.'s chief executive officer, that she had "abandoned" her job and therefore was being discharged.
Bell has declined to comment on the case, but a spokesman for Care Visions Corp. last week charged that Simpson was two days late in reporting back to work.
Simpson disputed that allegation, saying she gave Care Visions written notice that she would return Oct. 3. Care Visions also accused Simpson of volunteering for the call to active duty; Simpson maintained that it was a mandatory call-up.
Maj. Bruce Roy, a spokesman for the California National Guard in Sacramento, said last week that federal law prohibits companies from firing or demoting persons called to duty, whether or not they volunteered.
One of Simpson's lawyer, Thomas L. Brown, had said he believed the Simpson case was the first of its kind in the nation since President Bush's massive call-up of reserves last August.
The lawsuit had sought an unspecified amount of money in actual and punitive damages. She said she had been unable to find a job similar to the one from which she had been fired.