Former employees amend lawsuit against defunct Florida hospital over layoffs

Former employees of the now defunct ShorePoint Health Venice (Fla.) have filed an amended lawsuit in Florida federal court against the hospital for allegedly violating the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. 

The modified lawsuit — filed Nov. 14 and accessed by Becker's — follows a complaint filed in August.

The original lawsuit accuses the hospital and Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems, ShorePoint's owner at the time, of failing to provide workers with written notice required by the WARN Act before terminating their employment in August. A former employee, Callie White, filed the lawsuit on behalf of herself and about 600 other former employees. The former employees seek to recover damages in the amount of 60 days' compensation and benefits for each of them. 

In the modified complaint, CHS is no longer listed as a defendant. Defendants listed in the modified complaint are Venice HMA — which operated ShorePoint Health Venice and is a subsidiary of CHS — and Venice HMA Holdings. Florida HMA Holdings is the immediate parent of Venice HMA. 

The amended lawsuit states that the defendants terminated the former employees "without providing sufficient advance written notice as required by the WARN Act. Additionally, defendants violated the WARN Act not only by failing to provide advance notice of the plant closing, but also by failing to make transfer offers prior to closing the plant."

CHS closed ShorePoint Health Venice in September. The closure was announced in August, and some services were discontinued that month. 

In October, the hospital filed a motion to dismiss, for "lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," according to court documents accessed by Becker's.  

The hospital argued that the complaint should be dismissed because the former employee "fails to sufficiently plead that she, and the threshold number of 'affected employees,' suffered an 'employment loss.' As a result, … this premature case must be dismissed."

The motion to dismiss adds that the plaintiff's complaint "alleges only that her termination, and the termination of other employees, may occur on some future date if certain conditions arise."

After the hospital filed the motion to dismiss, the former employees had the option of responding to the motion or filing an amended complaint, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported Nov. 15.

CHS declined Becker's request to comment on the modified lawsuit.

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