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McGee v. Amedisys West Virginia, LLC

Supreme Court of West Virginia

November 21, 2018

Cathy McGee, Plaintiff Below, Petitioner,
v.
Amedisys West Virginia, LLC and Amedisys, Inc., and Tiffany Jones, individually and as an Agent to Amedisys West Virginia, LLC and Amedisys, Inc., Defendants Below, Respondents

          Wood County 14-C-1198

          MEMORANDUM DECISION

         Petitioner Cathy McGee, by counsel Todd W. Reed, appeals the Circuit Court of Wood County's June 26, 2017, order enforcing the parties' settlement agreement. Respondents Amedisys West Virginia, LLC and Amedisys, Inc., by counsel Ashley C. Pack, Katherine B. Capito, Craig R. Annunziata, and Jason D. Keck, and respondent Tiffany Jones, individually and as an agent to Amedisys West Virginia, LLC and Amedisys, Inc., by counsel J. Robert Russell, filed a combined response in support of the circuit court's order. Petitioner filed a reply. On appeal, petitioner argues that the circuit court erred in finding that there was a meeting of the minds as between the parties following mediation. Additionally, respondents assert a cross-assignment of error wherein they allege that the circuit court erred in denying their request for attorney's fees and costs to enforce the parties' settlement agreement.

         This Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented, the Court finds no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

         In August of 2012, petitioner was terminated from her position as a hospice care nurse by respondents after nearly two years of employment. Her termination was related to respondents' policy regarding pre-signed prescription sheets. According to petitioner, 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. On appeal, petitioner asserts that she utilized this practice infrequently and only to advance patient care. After an investigation into the use of these prescription sheets, petitioner was fired from her position. Thereafter, petitioner had to defend her license before her professional medical board and was investigated by the Wood County Sheriff's Office and the West Virginia Office of the Inspector General. Petitioner was further accused of terrorizing respondent Jones through vandalism, death threats, and even hiring someone to physically attack her. According to petitioner, all of these accusations were false.

         In May of 2014, petitioner filed a civil action against respondents that alleged wrongful discharge, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent investigation, violation of public policy, failure to provide a reasonably safe workplace, wage and hour violation, and a claim for punitive damages. Thereafter, the parties engaged in extensive discovery.

         In February of 2017, the parties engaged in court-ordered mediation with mediator James Lamp. At the end of mediation, the parties executed a mediation memorandum of understanding ("mediation memorandum") that set forth the terms of their agreement as follows:

[Petitioner] agrees to settle all claims in the above-styled civil action as follows:
- [REDACTED] paid to [petitioner] in settlement of Wage Payment Act claim;
- [REDACTED] paid to [petitioner]'s counsel in attorney fees on Wage Payment Act claim;
- [REDACTED] reimbursed to [petitioner] for litigation expenses;
- [Respondent] to pay all mediation fees and costs
[Petitioner] will sign full release of all claims, including attorney's fees and costs, as to all [respondents], settlement to be confidential, non-disparagement, no reapply.
[Petitioner and Respondents] agree to use best efforts to fully and finally conclude settlement including the execution of final settlement agreement documents.

         The parties are in disagreement as to when petitioner was presented with respondents' sixteen-page settlement agreement and release document. According to petitioner, she did not receive this document prior to the execution of the mediation memorandum. According to respondents, petitioner was presented with this document prior to the execution of the mediation memorandum, which was simply a term sheet of the major terms of the full settlement agreement and release document. Regardless, petitioner asserts that it was understood that she would have time to thoroughly review the settlement agreement and release before execution. However, petitioner found the settlement agreement and release to be an inaccurate reflection of the agreement between the parties at ...


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