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Bragg v. Southwest Health Sys.

United States District Court for the District of Colorado

September 18, 2020, Decided; September 18, 2020, Filed

Civil Action No. 18-cv-00763-MSK-NRN

Opinion

OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

THIS MATTER comes before the Court primarily pursuant to the Defendant's ("SHS") Motion for Summary Judgment (# 88), Ms. Bragg's response (# 97), and SHS' reply (# 111). Also pending are several motions seeking to restrict access (# 89, 99, 107, 140, 145, 164); motions by both sides to exclude the testimony of the opposing side's expert under Fed. R. Evid. 702 (# 124, 125); and various other matters that will be addressed as necessary.

FACTS

The Court briefly summarizes the pertinent facts here and elaborates as necessary in its analysis. Ms. Bragg was employed by SHS as its Director of Health Information Management. Generally speaking, her duties as Director required her to supervise [*2]  a team of employees who "coded" the medical services provided by employees of SHS for submission to patients' medical insurance companies. Ms. Bragg's direct supervisor was Angela Kobel, SHS' Chief Financial Officer.

In December 2016, a subordinate of Ms. Bragg's complained that she had sexually harassed him and created a hostile working environment. Although Ms. Bragg believes the complaint was meritless, it is undisputed that SHS investigated the matter and that based on the investigation, Ms. Kobel determined that Ms. Bragg had acted inappropriately and placed her on a 90-day Performance Improvement Plan ("PIP"). In February 2017, SHS received a complaint from a patient that Ms. Bragg had breached patient privacy rules when she spoke to a patient in a supermarket, congratulating the patient on a positive pregnancy test. The patient, who was in the presence of her estranged husband and did not wish to disclose the pregnancy, denied that anything warranted congratulations, and Ms. Bragg persisted, telling the patient that she had personally "coded your lab" results. Once again, Ms. Bragg disputes certain aspects of the complaint, but does not contest that SHS determined that she committed [*3]  an "unintentional" violation of privacy rules. SHS issued a written warning, stating that any future violation "will result in immediate termination of employment." SHS also removed Ms. Bragg from certain duties that affected patient privacy rights.

In March 2017, SHS conducted a review of its billing practices relating to IV infusion treatments and concluded that the failure of nurses to record start and stop times for such treatments was preventing SHS from fully billing for those services. Thus, SHS directed that nurses began entering start and stop times for the treatments in medical records. It appears that those times would sometimes be entered by nurses other than those who were actually administering the IV treatments, a practice that Ms. Bragg believed was improper and unethical, possibly amounting to fraud. Ms. Bragg repeatedly reported these concerns to Ms. Kobel and other supervisors at various times between April and August 2017.

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171227 *

ROBYN BRAGG, Plaintiff, v. SOUTHWEST HEALTH SYSTEM, INC., Defendant.

Prior History: Bragg v. Southwest Health Sys., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 230416 (D. Colo., Dec. 19, 2019)

CORE TERMS

termination, patient, deleted, privacy, retaliation, e-mails, pretext, lab, proffered, genuine, misconduct, undisputed, liver, moot, evidentiary, spoliation, cancer