Lawson files papers warning of lawsuit claiming she was wrongly villainized for Cover Oregon website
PORTLAND, Ore. - The battle over Cover Oregon's faltering website appears headed to the courts.
Carolyn Lawson, the former Oregon Health Exchange CIO, filed a tort claim notice on Monday giving notice she is considering suing the state and several state employees for statements they made about her and for wrongful discharge.
The notice claims the state responded to criticism about the website by "organizing, encouraging, allowing, tolerating and/or engaging in a substantial cover-up."
The notice names the state; OHA; OHA acting director Tina Edlund; Cover Oregon; Cover Oregon interim director Bruce Goldberg; OHA communication director Patty Wentz; and former Cover Oregon director Rocky King.
READ: You can see the tort claim notice here.
Tort claims are the first step toward fling a lawsuit, and must be provided to a public body that someone believes he or she has grounds.
Lawson's notice claims the state orchestrated a two-pronged approach to deflect blame, attacking Lawson's alleged mismanagement and software vendor Oracle's alleged "serious and fatal blunders."
The notice also claims Lawson was all but forced to participate in the alleged cover-up by Wentz.
"Somebody has to be held to blame for this," it claims Wentz said to Lawson. "It's going to be Rocky, or it's going to be Oracle, or it's going to be you. We want it to be Oracle, but it can be you if you want."
Lawson claims OHA demanded her resignation when she refused to "stick to the script."
Lawson claims Edlund demanded she step aside.
"You will be resigning today," Lawson claims Edlund said to her. "It's going to be for personal reasons. You can write the resignation letter or we will write it for you."
The subject line on Lawson's resignation email reads "Re: Resingation (trying again)." In it, she says she resigned because of a death in the family.
Lawson claims she wanted to tell the truth about what had happened.
"OHA's decision to fire Ms. Lawson because of her desire to speak publicly - and truthfully - about the mismanagement and substantial and specific danger to public health that might result from the actions of OHA and Cover Oregon constituted a wrongful discharge under Oregon law," the notice claims.
Full coverage of the troubled Cover Oregon website:
- Cover Oregon: Still pushing for deadline extension
- Oregon tied for last in nation for young-adult health-insurance sign-ups
- Cover Oregon: Apply now if you want health insurance this year
- Federal government announces Cover Oregon investigation
- Former Cover Oregon director says 'all of us' share blame for failures
- Top Cover Oregon official refuses to discuss Lawson resignation
- Official: Oracle not allowing Cover Oregon probe access to 6 employees
- Trouble with Cover Oregon? You may still get federal tax credits
- Cover Oregon website developer pulls 100 worker off project
- Ex-Cover Oregon website chief: 'I stuck to the talking points ... they were not accurate'
- High-level IT consultant on Cover Oregon: 'They didn't know what they were doing'
- New Cover Oregon allegations: 'If it's true, someone's going to prison.'
- Paging Dr. Kitzhaber: What did the governor know about Cover Oregon collapse?
- State rep., U.S. Senate candidate calls for the end of Cover Oregon
- Cover Oregon head: State might scrap all or part of failing website
- State lawmakers to grill Cover Oregon chief
- Family struggles to sign up for insurance through Cover Oregon
- First legal complaint filed over health enrollment mistakes
- Democratic state lawmaker believes Cover Oregon can be saved
- Contractor plans to examine why Cover Oregon failed
- 'We look like fools:' A history of Cover Oregon's failure
- State rep: Ditch Cover Oregon in favor of federal exchange
- Video: Exclusive Interview: Gov. John Kitzhaber - Cover Oregon 1/9/2014
- Gov. denies prior knowledge of Cover Oregon failure, exits exclusive KATU interview
- Kitzhaber outlines Cover Oregon's next steps: 'I can't give you a date'
- Kitzhaber: Firm will review Cover Oregon failures
- Cover Oregon applications left in limbo?
- Man with cancer waiting on Cover Oregon, gets insured
- Man with cancer still waiting on Cover Oregon
- New calls for Cover Oregon to take responsibility for project failures
- Rocky King, director of troubled Cover Oregon, resigns
- Salem man says Cover Oregon error left him in health care limbo
- Some question if they'll be covered by Cover Oregon in the new year
- What doomed Cover Oregon? 'Mismanagement,' say former employees
- After resigning, Lawson not talking about Cover Oregon website failures
- Ore. health official in charge of building Cover Oregon website resigns
- Fewer enrollments challenge Oregon exchange budget
- Executive director of Cover Oregon taking medical leave
- Cover Oregon considers new solutions
- Kitzhaber calls for independent review of Cover Oregon
- New emails show Cover Oregon unraveling in days before launch
- Emails: Cover Oregon executive knew about website problems in May
- Cover Oregon complicated by state's grand vision