Oxford County Mental Health ends lawsuit with out-of-court settlement


Oxford County Mental Health Services has reached an out-of-court settlement with a former employee-turned-whistle blower, who claimed her rights were violated when she was fired for reporting violations managers allegedly ignored. 

The settlement appears to end a case brought against the mental health services provider by  Linda Perry of Rumford, who filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in August. 

No details of the settlement were provided.

Notice that an agreement had been reached was recorded with the U.S. District Court’s online filing system on Nov. 26. 

Robert Hoy, an attorney for Oxford County Mental Health, declined to comment.

Messages left with OCMHS Executive Director Stephanie LeBlanc and an attorney for Perry were not returned. 

Claiming that her rights under the False Claims Act, Maine’s Whistleblower Protection Act and Human Rights Act were violated when senior management terminated her job in March 2013, Perry sued, asking for compensation for damages, back pay and to be reinstated at her former post.

Perry was hired in 2010 as a staffer at Andy’s Place, a four-bed community residence and rehabilitation program for people suffering from mental illness. 

According to the lawsuit, she alleged that the nonprofit violated regulations for maintaining proper client care required under state and federal law, because the center receives government reimbursements.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleged patients did not receive direct counseling or other services from staffers.

Treatment plans, known as Individual Service Plans, which under state and federal requirements must be updated every 90 days, routinely expired, though staffers continued to offer services based upon the obsolete plans. 

According to the lawsuit, during a staff meeting on March 20, she reportedly raised concerns that Andy’s Place was “falling apart.” She was fired the next day.

In her termination notice, she claimed that although managers cited her aggressive behavior and disrespectful attitude, she was terminated in retaliation for exposing improper patient care. 

Managers reportedly ignored or minimized her concerns, and later characterized her letter to watchdogs at the Maine Human Rights Commission as a feud with a supervisor, the lawsuit alleged. Most of the claims were later denied by OCMHS. 

The parties have until Dec. 29 to file a motion for dismissal with the court, a clerk said.