Cambia Health Solutions Sued for $3 Million by Former Medical Director

Dr. Michael Kaufman filed the lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court and is requesting a jury trial


February 22, 2013 -- A former medical director at Cambia Health Solutions has filed a $3 million lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleging he was abruptly fired without cause and is requesting a jury trial.

Dr. Michael Kaufman had been the executive medical director at Cambia’s affiliate – Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah -- for eight months when he was fired by Dr. Csaba Mera. At the time, Mera was interim chief medical officer for Cambia and executive medical director for Regence’s Oregon health plan.

Shortly before his termination, Kaufman had applied for a senior level position with Cambia – after John Stellman retired as the senior vice president for healthcare services.

Later, in an interview with Jared Short, president of Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Kaufman maintains there were no indications of any performance issues, according to the complaint.

And, although it could not be documented, rumors had surfaced that Mera had applied for the exact same job as Kaufman. Later, Dr. Richard Popiel accepted that position and was also named chief medical officer for Regence Health Plans.

Kaufman also asserts that other employees and executives at Regence had praised his work on several occasions. Had any problems arisen, he had been told a corrective action plan would have been put in place, and he had been assured, upon being hired, that he was not an at-will employee.

In response, the attorney representing Cambia said Mera had a telephone conversation with before Kaufman shortly before he was fired after being concerned about his “lack of leadership, lack of initiative and failure to deliver on assigned tasks.”

Earlier, Mera had expressed the same concerns in several meetings with Joan Byrd, vice president of integrated care management at Cambia, according to the response.

“Cambia feels strongly that there is no basis for Dr. Kaufman’s allegations,” Janine C. Blatt, with the law firm Druckman & Blatt, told The Lund Report. “Cambia intends to contest the claims vigorously and is confident in its position and that it will prevail. Dr. Kaufman made very similar allegations in another lawsuit against an employer for whom he worked prior to Cambia. That lawsuit has been dismissed in favor of the employer.”

Although Kaufman could not be reached for comment, his attorney, Martin Dolan, provided the following comment: “Dr. Kaufman's allegations in his complaint are accurate and though he has the highest regard for Cambia and Regence he believes they should keep their promises not only to him but to all their employees. He is saddened that Cambia would want to damage his reputation by making false statements. Cambia inaccurately refers to a previous legal action as dismissed. This is incorrect. Accuracy in this and all legal, contractual and employment matters is important to Dr. Kaufman as it should be for Cambia.”

Image for this story by Sal Falko (CC BY-NC 2.0) via Flickr.

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