TARZANA HEALTHCARE WHISTLE BLOWER CASE EXAMPLE

At some point after June 13, 2011 and before July 25, 2011, Plaintiff sent a letter to Useless Employee, Regional Quality Manager. The letter stated "My fear is that we could potentially have an unsafe situation occur due to the way Dr. N reacts." The letter describes that this doctor, who is the doctor in charge of the clinic, refuses to respond or deal with situations nurses and other staff feel is beyond what they are capable of handling in an out patient dialysis clinic. The letter describes that on one occasion the nurses wanted to send a patient to the hospital, but Dr. N refused and told them to provide dialysis services at the clinic for the patient. On another occasion, a patient had a stabbing pain, was given Nitroglycerin SL by a nurse, on a standing order, and Dr. N was angry this patient was sent to the hospital. Another patient had a fever, chills, a graft that was shinny, swollen, red, and oozed exudate. The skin felt abnormally hot, and the patient stated he wanted to go to the emergency room. The patient was sent and Dr. N, who was not present was once again angry. He responded by text that sending the patients to the emergency room was "Not good or even remotely bright," and that the decisions to send these patients to the emergency room was done by Plaintiff who "It seems you are a few steps beyond ignorant." Plaintiff contends that Dr. N did not want to send these patients to the hospital because he did not have privileges at any hospitals in the area other than the Marina Dely Rey hospital which was a very small emergency center fairly far from the facility, and he feared losing the patient who would be reassigned to another nephrologist not associated with Defendants' clinics and/or Dr. N was intent on exercising negligent medical judgment.

On or about July 25 and 26, 2011 employee of the two corporate Defendants, Useless Employee did an investigation due to Plaintiff's complaint about Dr. N. Unaware Management Person documented the complaints of Plaintiff as including "Patients making changes to their dialysis machines themselves, patients setting up machines, cannulating themselves, doing rinse back without documented training, and patients taking video and still pictures of staff performing their jobs to validate concerns in break of infection control policies. Dr. N's claim was "Patients are borderline sociopaths in this clinic." Health Care Employee was reminded to follow infection control rules of the clinic, and then took pictures of Clinic Patient using "chew/rub" on the floor and using a container to spit into. Clinic Patient resigned after Dr. N became irate that the patient with the fever was sent to the emergency room. A patient complained that there were days when there was only one RN in the clinic, and when this happens she refuses to stay due to concerns of safety. Another patient claims he called OSHA. He also said there was a medication error, his blood pressure dropped to 70/40, and he could not get dialysis that day. Investigating nurse also found there to be infection control issues. He also decided that there would be security so the staff could enforce procedures against the patients some of whom were threatening and had histories of mental problems.

On or about October 7, 2011, Defendants' Compton clinic sustained serious water damage. It took three fire trucks three hours to get the initial water out. On or about October 8, 2011 remediation efforts started. By October 11, 2011 Plaintiff began reporting what ended up being approximately 14-16 workers compensation injuries associated with mold and sickness due to the water damage. October 17, 2011 staff were told to come back to the premises.

On or about October 31, 2011 Plaintiff' immediate report Unhelpful Manager, Regional Director of Operations, gave Plaintiff a corrective action/performance improvement plan. Plaintiff contends that this was done in retaliation for Plaintiff raising the issues described in Paragraphs 6-7 and then 8 of this wrongful termination lawsuit. The corrective action was unusual because Plaintiff's previous reviews had been above average. Second, the October 31, 2011 document disciplined Plaintiff for an event that occurred on August 29, 2011. Third, it disciplined Plaintiff for an event that occurred October 20, 2011 that bore eerie similarity to the event with the patient who was sent to the emergency room earlier, with a fever. The other events on the corrective action were also suspicious. Plaintiff wrote a rebuttal that went to Christen Stern on or about November 7, 2011 that stated: 1) she considered herself a patient advocate; 2) she continued to question the soundness of Dr. N and his directions; 3) she contacted the State in hopes something would be done about Dr. N and his lack of support, including a patient who died when an employee of Defendants claimed to have told Dr. N three times that the patient's leg was getting worse after a graft, but failed to act appropriately. Plaintiff explained this was the "near miss" she referred to in the letter described in Paragraph 6 of this wrongful termination lawsuit. Next, Plaintiff referred to the October 20, 2011 incident as being a situation in which the Defendants' charge nurse did not want to start a patient on dialysis who had a fever, Plaintiff told the nurse to do what she was comfortable with (Plaintiff nor Dr. N were present), and the nurse called 911. The patient ended up being admitted to the hospital for three days. Plaintiff mentioned another event where she was written up for a patient being sent to the hospital, who died several days later, when Dr. N did not want the patient to go to the hospital and claimed she was just psychotic and should continue dialysis. Plaintiff wrote she would no longer put her credentials on the line for malice and careless medical practices dictated by Dr. N who did not have privileges at Kaiser or the Compton Hospital.

On or about November 1, 2011 Plaintiff went on medical leave. At that time there were not any carpets on the floor of her office and remediation work was not complete for the mold. On or about October 18, 2011, a doctor wrote a note that was given to Defendants indicating that Plaintiff had potential mold exposure.

On or about November 1, 2011 Plaintiff wrote an e-mail to her contact at the Department of Public Health, for the County of Los Angeles. Plaintiff was informed and believed that this Department had control over determining if Defendants followed guidelines and was approved for the purpose of being a medical clinic. Plaintiff notified Department of Health Worker, RN, MSN that Plaintiff would no longer be working at the corporate Defendants' Compton location because of what she perceived as unsafe patient practices of the medical director (Dr. N) not wanting to send sick patients to the hospital. She also notified the Department that there had been excessive water damage since October 7, 2011 and that she filed 14 workers compensation claims for her employees there, there was mold, and evacuation was delayed thereby causing these injuries.

On or about November 7, 2011 Plaintiff discussed with Out of State Human Resource Person in Human Resources that she had made the complaint to the Health Department, described in Paragraph 11 of this wrongful termination lawsuit.

On or about November 30, 2011, when Plaintiff was not present a fire drill was done by her staff. There was a new check list and the staff falsely claimed they tested the fire alarm.

Plaintiff came back to work on January 3, 2012. On or about January 25, 2012 she notified Supervisor 1, Supervisor 2, and her second in line report, a Vice-President that the alarm was inoperable at her facility and not connected. In addition, there were not any smoke detectors. The premises were rented and prepared for Defendants' occupancy before Plaintiff was hired to work at that facility.

On or about March 2, 2012 Plaintiff was terminated for falsifying the fire report that was done by staff while she was out. However, the corporate Defendants had still not activated the fire alarm, nor had they caused smoke detectors to be installed at the facility where Plaintiff worked. Plaintiff did not have the authority to fix the deactivated fire alarm.

Plaintiff contends that her termination was due to complaints about staff safety, patient care, a complaint to the Department of Health, refusal to engage in nursing that jeopardized patient health, and the lack of a working fire alarm.

Under California law, no employee, whether they are an at-will employee, or an employee under a written or other employment contract, can be terminated for a reason that is in violation of a fundamental public policy. In recent years, the California court has interpreted a fundamental public policy to be any articulable constitutional, statutory provision, or regulation that is concerned with a matter effecting society at large rather than a purely personal or proprietary interest of the employee or the employer. Moreover, the public policy must be fundamental, substantial, and well established at the time of discharge.

The Plaintiff is informed, believes, and based thereon, alleges that said Defendant to this cause of action terminated the Plaintiff's employment in violation of public policy by terminating Plaintiff for complaining of conduct that violates public policies affecting society at large as follows:
  1. a. The clinic where Plaintiff was employed was a specialty clinic as defined by California Health and Safety Code Section 1200. California Health and Safety Code Section 1201 required the clinic to be licensed, and Section 1204(b)(2) specifically mentions the licensing ability of a dialysis clinic, Section 1205.5 deals with dialysis clinics in operation before September 26, 1978 to the extent Defendants make that claim, Sections 1207 and 1227-1228 allows the State Department of Health to inspect clinics. Sections 1229-1230 allow for sanctions and corrective measures in the event of inspections. Section 1248.1 provides criteria for outpatient settings. Section 1248.15 requires outpatient settings to be licensed, 1248.15(B) requires trained personnel to facilitate the handling of medical emergencies that might arise in connection with services offered, 1248.15(C) requiring the facility to have a written transfer agreement with a local accredited or licensed acute care hospital, Section 1248.35 allows the inspection of the outpatient facility by the accrediting agency;

  2. b. California Business and Professions Code Section 2001.1 states that the Medical Board, created by California Business and Professions Code Section 2001, shall have as its highest priory the protection of the public, and the Board shall exercise that through licensing. California Business and Professions Code Section 2004 and 2004(e) of the California Business and Professions Code sets forth that the Medical Quality Board established by Section 2003 shall review the quality of medical practice carried out by doctors, surgeons, and holders under the jurisdiction of the Board;

  3. c. California Business and Professions Code Section 2234 prohibits the unprofessional conduct of doctors including gross negligence, repeated negligence, incompetence, prohibitions of dishonest acts related to the qualifications of a physician and surgeon and Section 2410 applicable to medical corporations prohibiting them from engaging in unprofessional conduct. California Business and Professions Code Section 2240(a) required reports of deaths of patients who treated within 15 days at a non-acute medical facility. Section 2234(b) required reports if a patient at the clinic was transferred to a hospital or emergency center for medical treatment for a period exceeding 24 hours. Plaintiff alleges that one of Dr. N's reasons for refusing to transfer patients to the hospital was he did not want to make reports under California Business and Professions Code Section 2234(b).

  4. d. California Business and Professions Code Section 2220.5, 2221(a) which allows physicians and surgeons to be disciplined for violations of the statutes described in sub-paragraphs a and c in this wrongful termination lawsuit;

  5. e. Plaintiff was a registered nurse which subjected her to the statutory authority of California Business and Professions Code Section 2736, 2742, 2750, and 2761(a)(1) which would cause her to lose her license for incompetent and improper nursing which Plaintiff reasonably believed was occurring as alleged in Paragraphs 6-14 of this wrongful termination lawsuit;

  6. f. California Health and Safety Code Section 1278.5(b) prohibits healthcare facilities from discriminating or retaliating against employees who present complaints or grievances about the care, services, or conditions of a healthcare facility, and California Health and Safety Code Section 1278.5(d) that creates a rebuttable presumption the employee has been discriminated against for so reporting if the discriminatory treatment occurs within 120 days of the reporting;

  7. g. California Labor Code Section 132a was also violated and Plaintiff was being forced to work in an environment whereby she could not exercise her rights to pursue medical treatment, or worker's compensation benefits because upon making those intentions known she was terminated. In addition, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Department of Health indicating that she had to file numerous workers compensation claims for her subordinates who were being forced to work in Defendants' water damaged facility that had mold;

  8. h. the letter and spirit of California Labor Code Section 6300 enacted for the purpose of ensuring a safe and healthful work environment. The facility was contaminated by mold and products that were the result of water damage. Infection controls were not properly existing for staff. The fire alarm was not being fixed and smoke detectors were not being installed. These conditions constitutes violations of employee safety under California Labor Code Section 6306(a) and 6401, 6403(b)-(c), 6404, 6405. California Labor Code Section 6400 requiring employers to furnish safe work places to their employees, and Section 6402 stating employees can't be forced to work in unsafe work environments which thereby gave Plaintiff the right to complain about the safety of her work environment;

  9. i. California Labor Code Section 6310(b) prohibiting discharge and discrimination because an employee has made a bona fide safety complaint to their employer including complaints that must be investigated under California Labor Code Section 6309. In addition, California Labor Code Section 6311 does not allow an employee to be discharged for refusing to perform work in an environment in which a health or safety order or standard will be violated.

  10. j. California Labor Code Sections 1102.5(a-b) and 1102.5(c) because Plaintiff was refusing to participate in activities that would violate the statutes specified in the above of this wrongful termination lawsuit. Plaintiff had a legal right under sub-paragraphs a-i of this wrongful termination lawsuit to make the complaints she made. In fact, due to her job she had a right if not a legal duty to make the disclosures she made internally to management and also the Department of Health. Not making these disclosures would be forcing Plaintiff to work in an environment where her license is at stake, patient and employee safety is at stake, and there is a risk of patient death. The violation of 1102.5(c) was also a violation of Labor Code Section 1103 which makes 1102.5 an important public policy because it has criminal penalties, and 1102.5(f) provides for penalties.

WRONGFUL TERMINATION CASE RESULT: SETTLEMENT OF $118,355 IN 2014 DOLLARS