Supreme Court reverses Wood Circuit Court decision

By Kyla Asbury | Nov 28, 2018

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued a memorandum decision agreeing that Amedisys West Virginia failed to establish that its former employee acted in bad faith.

The unanimous decision was issued Nov. 21, according to the court document obtained by The West Virginia Record.

Cathy McGee had filed a lawsuit against Amedisys West Virginia, Amedisys Inc. and Tiffany Jones, individually and as an agent to the Amedisys defendants in Wood Circuit Court in 2014. Her employment was terminated in August 2012.

McGee had worked as a hospice care nurse for the defendants for two years prior to the termination of her employment.

McGee appealed the circuit court's June 26, 2017, order that enforced the parties’ settlement agreement.

McGee's termination was related to the respondents' policy regarding pre-signed prescription sheets.

McGee claimed when she joined Amedisys, it utilized a practice that encouraged nurses to use pre-executed prescription sheets in order to ensure end-of-life drug treatment for terminally ill patients when the medical director was unavailable.

She claims she utilized this practice infrequently and only to advance patient care.

However, after an investigation into the use of the prescription sheets, McGee's employment was terminated and she was forced to defend her license before her professional medical board. She was also investigated by the Wood County Sheriff’s Office and the West Virginia Office of the Inspector General.

McGee was also accused of terrorizing Jones through vandalism, death threats and even hiring someone to physically attack her, which she claims were all false accusations.

McGee filed her lawsuit against the respondents in May 2014 and in February 2017, they were involved in court-ordered mediation with mediator James Lamp, according to the decision.

The parties are in disagreement as to when the petitioner was presented with the respondents’ 16-page settlement agreement and release document

McGee claimed it was understood that she would have time to review the settlement agreement and release before execution, but she did not agree with the agreement and she refused to execute the agreement.

The respondents then filed a motion to enforce the settlement.

The circuit court then filed an order on June 26, 2017, to enforce the settlement agreement. McGee then appealed.

"Respondents assert that, in light of the circumstances and petitioner’s 'baseless' refusal to comply with her contractual obligations, the circuit court abused its discretion in refusing to award respondents their fees and costs incurred in enforcing the settlement agreement," the decision states.

The Supreme Court found that beyond simply alleging that petitioner refused to sign the subsequent full settlement agreement, respondents have failed to establish that petitioner acted in bad faith or in a manner that otherwise demands equitable payment of their fees and costs incurred in enforcing the settlement agreement at issue.

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