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Alterio v. Almost Family

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 6, 2019

LORI ALTERIO, Plaintiff,
v.
ALMOST FAMILY, Defendant.

          RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On January 30, 2018, Lori Alterio (“Plaintiff”) filed a civil complaint in Connecticut Superior Court against Almost Family, Inc. (“Defendant” or “Almost Family), her former employer. Compl., ECF No. 1-1. Ms. Alterio alleges that she was terminated in violation of the public policy of the state of Connecticut and the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Id.

         On March 2, 2018, Almost Family removed the case to this Court on diversity grounds under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 and 1446. Notice of Removal from State Court, ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 6-14.

         On March 9, 2018, Almost Family moved to dismiss the case. Def. Mot. to Dismiss or for a More Definite Statement (“Mot. to Dismiss”), ECF No. 10.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court now GRANTS Almost Family's motion to dismiss, ECF No. 10, but also grants Ms. Alterio leave to file an Amended Complaint by April 5, 2019.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         For more than 20 years at Almost Family, Inc., Ms. Alterio allegedly held “positions of increasing responsibility[.]” Compl. ¶ 6. In October of 2016, Ms. Alterio allegedly agreed to serve as the Director of Professional Services for Almost Family's Trumbull, Connecticut Willcare Agency. ¶ 9.

         Over the next year, Ms. Alterio allegedly discovered several documentation and healthcare compliance issues at various Almost Family sites in Connecticut. Id. ¶ 19. She allegedly conducted an audit and discovered deficiencies in employee and patient recordkeeping at Almost Family's Watermark Assisted Living Facility and Sunrise of Stamford facility. Id. ¶ 6. Ms. Alterio allegedly communicated her concerns about missing documents and non-compliance to Brent Piepenbring, Almost Family's Executive Director for Connecticut, and Sippy Olarsch, Almost Family's Northeast Regional Rehab Director. Id. ¶ 22.

         In the summer of 2017, Ms. Alterio allegedly informed Almost Family's previous Executive Director, Nicole Lavin, and Northeast Regional Clinical President, Sheryl Rossingnol, that the company needed to hire a new Home Health Aide Supervisor to comply with Connecticut state requirements. Id. ¶ 25-27. Ms. Rossingnol allegedly told Ms. Alterio that a registered nurse from another branch had been designated as the new Home Health Supervisor for Connecticut. Id. ¶ 28. Ms. Alterio still felt that there were compliance issues since Almost Family's “Willcare Agency [allegedly] held its own provider number which separates it from the defendant's other offices.” Id. ¶ 29. Ms. Rossignol allegedly told Ms. Alterio to address the issue with Mr. Piepenbring. Id. ¶ 30. Ms. Alterio allegedly raised her concerns in meetings with Mr. Piepenbring in July and September of 2017. Id. ¶ 32.

         Ms. Alterio also allegedly expressed concerned about an account executive who “would overstep the legal boundaries of his position and participate [in] the clinical decision-making process, in violation of the regulations of the State of Connecticut.” Id. ¶ 34. She allegedly raised these concerns with Mr. Piepenbring in October of 2017. Id. ¶ 37.

         On November 3, 2017, Almost Family allegedly terminated Ms. Alterio from its employment. Id. ¶ 6. Ms. Alterio contends that she “was terminated by the defendant as a result of the legitimate, scrupulous and professional efforts [she took to] properly maintain health care records, properly appoint a Home Health Aide Supervisor, keep a separation between clinical . . . and non-clinical staff in communicating with a patient's physician when developing a patient's healthcare plan, [in honor of] the provisions of the Connecticut Patient Bill of Rights.” Id. ¶ 48.

         Ms. Alterio therefore alleges that Almost Family unlawfully discharged her in violation of the public policy of the state of Connecticut, id. ¶¶ 1-54, and breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, id. ¶¶ 55-63.

         B. Procedural Background

         On January 30, 2018, Ms. Alterio filed her Complaint in Connecticut Superior Court, Judicial District of Fairfield. Compl.

         On March 2, 2018, Almost Family removed the case on diversity grounds under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 and 1446, alleging that Almost Family is incorporated in Delaware with a principal place of business in Kentucky, and that the amount in ...


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