Judge dismisses former director's retaliation suit against MercyOne

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a former MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center worker in Sioux City, Iowa. The worker said she was fired in retaliation for filing an ethics complaint against a heart surgeon, according to a July 27 report from the Sioux City Journal.

The worker had informed hospital administrators of concerns that a heart surgeon was failing to obtain proper patient consent, performing unsafe add-on procedures during surgeries, and falsifying paperwork so he could perform more high-risk surgeries.

U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams granted the hospital's motion to dismiss, ruling that Cynthia Tener's lawsuit did not provide enough factual evidence to show the sole basis for firing her was retaliation under the federal False Claims Act. Furthermore, she may be better off filing her lawsuit in state court, the judge wrote. 

"(Tener) can find sufficient remedy for any alleged harm under alternate state law theories without having to overextend the specific narrow protection provided under the FCA," Mr. Williams wrote. 

Tener was the former director of MercyOne's cardiovascular service line, where she supervised nurses and clinic leaders. She said she was suspended Nov. 3 after administrators informed her of complaints that she was creating a toxic work environment.

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