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February 2018 Archives

Doctor Files Whistleblower Suit Against Hospital

It was not news in Washington, D.C. when a prominent doctor sued United Medical Center.

Washington Post readers could see it coming because Dr. Julian Craig told city officials about billing problems at the hospital, only to be fired weeks later. Councilwoman Mary Cheh put it this way:

"This looks like a classic retaliation to me," she said. Now a federal court will decide in Craig v. Not-for-Profit Hospital Corporation.

In line with recent rulings limiting the reach of Bivens claims, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in Liff v. Dept. of Labor, reversed a lower federal court, and refused to extend Bivens to a federal contractor's claim.

Stewart Liff, who ran Stewart Liff and Associates, was, at one time, a successful human resources expert and government contractor. However, he alleged that he was the subject of a reputation assassination that resulted in him essentially losing all his government contract work, which made up about 90 percent of his business. Liff claimed that as a result of a public agency report (that stated spending on his services was wasteful) going public, and other reputational harms, he lost nearly all his business.

President Can Fire Agency Head Only for Cause

During his State of the Union address, President Trump urged Congress to allow government officials to fire workers who "undermine the public trust or fail the American people."

But under a federal court decision issued the next day, it's not going to be that easy even for the president. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the head of a consumer protection agency can only be fired for cause.

PHH Corporation v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not a big setback for the "You're fired" president, but it is a huge affirmation of the power of an administrative agency.