“Facts, not emotion”


What would you, as a manager, do with Clifford Currie, a civilian contractor working in an Army hospital? There is a huge pile of documentation that shows he is unstable, unreliable, and hostile. There were months of reports piling up.

Army investigators reviewed more than 1,000 pages of documents, including witness statements, law enforcement case files, and email correspondence. Though some names and specific details were redacted, statements from 25 witnesses supported Blanchard’s claim that she’d warned her supervisors — and anyone else who would listen — that she felt Currie was a threat.

The hospital’s chain of command knew that Currie “exhibited erratic behavior and risk indicators,” and that he “had multiple angry outbursts, acted ominously, and actively intimidated” Blanchard, the report said.

Two weeks before the assault Blanchard said that she met with her supervisors, and pleaded: “Please, don’t leave me there as a sitting duck,” but was told to “come back with facts, not emotion,” she told Task & Purpose. “I went back to my office and I just cried, because I just felt so hopeless.”

The report noted that Currie was the subject of 53 complaints from patients between 2013 and 2016 — 31 of which occurred in 2016 while Blanchard was his supervisor. According to the report, three of the patient complaints described Currie as “being hostile.”

The military did nothing. Then Currie walked in on Katie Blanchard, poured gasoline on her, and set her on fire. It was a sudden, violent act, but there’d been obvious signs and multiple warnings that this guy was going to snap. She survived, with serious scarring and pain, and she sued the Army for needlessly putting her life in danger. Guess what happened next? They have a rule that says the military can’t be sued!

On April 18, 2019, the Army denied Blanchard’s claim for damages, citing the Feres Doctrine — a 1950 Supreme Court precedent which bars service members and their families from suing the military for injury or death brought on by their service. The claim, which Blanchard’s attorneys provided to Task & Purpose, included the names of 14 people within her chain of command who were allegedly warned by her that Currie posed a threat.

“Come back with facts, not emotion”. That sounds so familiar, the kind of thing skeptics and atheists would say all the time. Sometimes the emotions are the facts, and you have to have policies to deal with them…or you end up with women burning in their office chairs.

Comments

  1. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Feres Act:

    injury or death brought on by their service

    I guess I am naive to see this as referring to military service which is by definition dangerous, not clerical office work. To read “service” so generically is a major misunderstanding of this Act. IE service is in short, referring to combat service, not clerical service.
    Hypothetically, they would not let a cafeteria worker stabbed by him, to sue because they were in Service on a military base?
    I don’t understand this argument at all, my MSEE didn’t teach me any legal jargon.

  2. says

    “come back with facts, not emotion,”

    The report noted that Currie was the subject of 53 complaints from patients between 2013 and 2016

    There’s a paper trail going back years. Isn’t that a matter of fact? Why doesn’t that count?

  3. thirdmill301 says

    If she can’t get any money, can they at least court martial the people in the chain of command who did nothing?

  4. sarah00 says

    Blanchard was taken back to her office [by the hospital’s Head of Security] to examine “items she could use as weapons” and what furniture could be used defensively in case of an attack, according to the report.

    How on earth is the Head of Security not just escorting Currie off the premises at that point?

  5. anbheal says

    I come from a Navy family, but I’ve never served myself. My layman’s understanding is that Petty Officers and Warrant Officers are not exactly members of the Armed Forces, but somebody needs to cook the meals and maintain the engines and radar, maybe a merchant seaman to run navigation control, etc., and after a certain point of good career performance, they achieve a status where they can give orders to anyone up to lieutenant, maybe even lieutenant commander, but will never be able to boss around a commander or captain. Is that correct?

    But if someone who outranks them gives them an order, and they disobey? Or they fall asleep on watch? Or are drunk on duty? Or violate any number of other protocols, they get booted. It might not be quite a court-martial, or dishonorable discharge, since I think they may be officially civilians. But the chain of command is quite clear. You disobey an order, reprimand. Second time, demotion. Third time, the brig.

    So, how the fuck did this happen?

  6. timmyson says

    women burning in their office chairs
    What I got out of the article was “women burning while they defended themselves from an armed assailant, summoned help, and issued instructions to manage the situation.” In short, women burning while they’re still kicking ass.

  7. magistramarla says

    I’ve heard of some cases where civilian spouses and children have won cases against the armed forces. I’ve always understood the rule to be that the active duty service member could not sue, but the spouse and/or children could.
    I would assume that she has retained a good lawyer.

  8. Oggie: Mathom says

    anbheal@6:

    My layman’s understanding is that Petty Officers and Warrant Officers are not exactly members of the Armed Forces,

    Petty Officers, in the US Navy, are the non-commissioned officers. They are like the sergeants in the Army or Marines. The officer defines the mission and the NCO (non-commissioned officers) are the ones with the institutional knowledge to understand the tools and tactics needed to achieve said mission.

    Warrant Officers are a special breed. They are in the military. They are people who have extremely specialized skills (nuclear operations specialists in the Navy, helicopter pilots in the Army, for example) which would, ordinarily, be skills of a high-ranking NCO (Master Sergeant, Sergeant Major, or Chief Petty Officer, Master Chief) but do not have the experience or the institutional knowledge to back up that rank. WOs are slotted between Officers and Enlisted in a TOC, but it is a rare WO1 (the lowest of the four Army Warrant Officer ranks) who would try to give an order to an SM. It is a way to pay the person for their skills without abandoning the traditional NCO chain of memory.

    So, yes, petty officers are in the Navy. They are not outside the Navy. Same for warrant officers. They may, occasionally, earn a commission (hell, my current division chief was a USAF sergeant who got his BA through the air force education programme, was commissioned, and then got his MA in history while he sat in a missile bunker in North Dakota for three years. He ended up teaching history at the Air Force Academy.), usually through academic achievement, though sometimes as a reward for battlefield bravery (field commission). They are in the chain of command. And, if they refuse to follow an order, they can be courts-martialed (unless they can prove they are refusing to obey an unlawful order).

    The military does have civilian employees. But they are most emphatically not in the chain of command.

    That said, what the fuck?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!! Upper level managers should lose their jobs, their commissions (if in the military), their pensions and, possibly, their freedom. This was gross negligence by any fair reading of the circumstances.

    And, as far as the possibility of suing the federal government for damages, there are limits for all civilian employees of the federal government, not just employees of the military. It sounds to me, though, like the military is hiding behind a legal precedent that is very specific by claiming universal application. I hope Blanchard wins.

  9. says

    “Come back with facts, not emotion”.

    “A doctor acted in a hostile manner towards me” is a fact. “The doctor had an angry outburst” is a fact.

    “I feel bad about these events” is an emotion.

  10. wzrd1 says

    Something smells to high heaven. Complaints go to the first line supervisor and to the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR). With threatening behavior, the COR would then instruct the contracting company to remove the worker, typically replacing said worker.

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