Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Waugh v. Genesis Healthcare LLC

Supreme Court of Maine

December 30, 2019

KATHLEEN WAUGH
v.
GENESIS HEALTHCARE LLC et al.

          Argued: November 5, 2019

          Guy D. Loranger, Esq. (orally), Law Office of Guy D. Loranger, PA, Old Orchard Beach, for appellant Kathleen Waugh

          James R. Erwin, Esq. (orally), and Elizabeth B. Rao, Esq., Pierce Atwood LLP, Portland, for appellees Genesis Healthcare LLC and Westbrook Operations, LLC

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          GORMAN, J.

         [¶1] Kathleen Waugh appeals from a summary judgment entered in the Superior Court (Cumberland County, Horton, J.) in favor of Genesis Healthcare LLC and Westbrook Operations, LLC, d/b/a Springbrook Center (Springbrook) on Waugh's complaint for defamation and "slander/libel per se." Waugh contends that the court erred by concluding that the statements at issue are subject to a conditional privilege. We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] In 2017, Kathleen Waugh filed a complaint against Genesis Healthcare and Springbrook (collectively, Genesis) in the Superior Court alleging defamation and slander or libel per se, for which she sought compensatory and punitive damages.[1] Waugh alleged that Genesis terminated her contract as a registered nurse at Springbrook based on false allegations of patient abuse.[2]

         [¶3] Genesis moved for a summary judgment, and Waugh opposed the motion. Viewing the supported statements of material facts in the light most favorable to Waugh, as the nonprevailing party, the summary judgment record establishes the following. See Oceanic Inn, Inc. v. Sloan's Cove, LLC, 2016 ME 34, ¶25, 133 A.3d 1021.

         [¶4] Springbrook provides care services to incapacitated and dependent adults.[3] Waugh is a registered nurse who worked for a staffing agency, Core Medical Group, from April of 2015 through August of 2016. In January of 2016, Core placed Waugh to work as a nurse at Springbrook. On July 30, 2016, a Springbrook resident reported to another nurse that, on the previous evening, Waugh had "ripped the call bell off [his] shirt" and placed it out of his reach, stated "how do you like that?" to him, and told him that he would instead be checked on at regular intervals. The resident explained that Waugh had accused him of calling for assistance too often. In response to that report, Springbrook began an investigation that included speaking to the resident and to Springbrook employees who had been on duty on the evening of July 29. The investigation showed that the resident repeated his accusation about Waugh to other staff members. Springbrook employees, including certified nursing assistants (CNAs), provided witness reports about the evening of the incident and the resident's allegations. Springbrook also asked Waugh about the resident's claim, and she denied having removed the resident's call bell.

         [¶5] While it was conducting its investigation, Springbrook-through its director of nursing-sent Core a form document entitled "Travel Employee Performance Counsel Notice." In that notice, the director of nursing described the incident at issue by writing, "[The resident] alleges neglect and informed DHHS." In response to a question posed on the form, "Were there witnesses to the above incident?" Springbrook's director of nursing checked the box indicating "Yes" and stated, "Staff provided statements along with [the] resident."

         [¶6] From its investigation, Springbrook concluded that Waugh's conduct violated the call bell policy, did not provide an acceptable level of care to the resident, and was inconsistent with Springbrook's mission to provide quality care and protect residents from potential or actual abuse or neglect. On August 3, 2016, Springbrook's human resources manager emailed Genesis Healthcare's regional human resources manager to request approval to terminate Waugh's contract. In that email, Springbrook's human resources manager wrote, "[Waugh] denies taking the call bell away, but this is not supported by the CNA and resident interviews." Based on its determination that Waugh had violated its policy, Springbrook terminated Waugh's assignment to its facility. Core then declined to give Waugh any additional assignments.

         [¶7] By judgment dated December 18, 2018, the court granted a summary judgment in favor of Genesis ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.