$2.5M Awarded to Healthcare Workers in CHI Medical Group Wage and Hour Case

The Blankenship Law Firm

$2.5 Million to Washington Healthcare Workers In Class Action Arbitration

Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), CHI-Franciscan Healthcare, And Franciscan Medical Group (FMG) Agree To Pay $2.5 Million Dollars

September 2, 2022 (Seattle, WA)  – Sixty-seven physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants will receive $2.5 million dollars from Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) in back wages they are owed.

The doctors, Michael Romney, Faron Bauer, and Kristen Childress, filed individual wrongful discharge claims and a class action lawsuit on behalf of employees at Prompt Cares and Urgent Cares on November 13, 2013 in Washington State Court.

Dr. Romney and Dr. Bauer were fired without warning and “without cause” from St. Anthony’s Care, now known as Franciscan Prompt Care, in May 2013. According to class counsel from The Blankenship Law Firm, Scott Blankenship: “The termination happened just days before they could formally present their concerns to the physician compensation committee for resolution.” Romney and Bauer were awarded more than $8.78 million in March 2020 for wrongful dismissal and other claims. They were the longest serving providers in FMG’s prompt-care facility. 

FMG had initially agreed to pay providers for hours outside of the shift per the contracts and did so.  Many witnesses testified that Prompt Care Providers accepted walk-in patients who arrived before the scheduled closing and were required to be seen, necessitating providers to work outside of clinic hours. “At some point, FMG began a common practice of refusing to credit or pay providers all the hours they worked despite the contact, a criminal practice known as wage theft,” said Blankenship.

The class will receive the combined award from CHI, CHI Franciscan, and FMG. The Honorable Louise LaMothe, United States Federal Magistrate Judge, acting as a private arbitrator, approved this settlement.  “The deserving class members can now rejoice in the knowledge that they will finally be compensated for the important work and time they have put into their community.” Said Class Representative Bauer.

“Healthcare providers who protect patients, public health and patient safety must be heard and protected, especially amid national crises such as Covid-19 pandemic. It is a matter of life and death,” said Blankenship “This case should send a loud and clear message to the Health Care Industry. Wage theft is illegal and hurts health care workers and the community they serve.”

Every year, billions of dollars are stolen from Americans by their employers. A 2017 study from the Economic Policy Institute found that companies steal an average of “$3,300 per year for year-round workers” in the 10 most populous states in the U.S., including Washington State, amounting to a loss of “nearly a quarter of their earned wages.” Working Washington estimates that bosses steal $1.2 billion in the state.

From 2005 to 2015, the average compensation of major nonprofit hospital CEOs rose by 93 percent, from $1.6 million to $3.1 million, while average hospital worker wages increased by a mere 8 percent in that decade. CHI’s Chief Executive Officer compensation exceeded $5.5 million in 2020.

Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) recently merged with Dignity Health and is now CommonSpirit Health, the second largest non-profit healthcare system with over $29 billion in total assets according to its website. It owns CHI-Franciscan and Franciscan Medical Group (FMG) and collectively operates 11 hospitals and multiple clinics in the Western Washington.

The Blankenship Law Firm, PLLC is an award-winning AV-rated law firm located in downtown Seattle with attorneys licensed in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. The firm’s practice emphasizes employment law and healthcare, including class actions representing employees in all phases of negotiation and litigation.

CHI medical group to pay $2.5M to settle wage-theft case tied to Gig Harbor clinic, courtesy of The News Tribune

Documents & Information

Arbitration Award

Plantiff's Complaint Filed in King County Superior Court

Partial Final Award on Individual Claims

Partial Final Award Regarding Class Certification

Final Approval Order

American Arbitration Association Case Information

Case Title: Cindius Romney as Personal Representative  for the Estate Of Michael Romney; et al, Claimants vs. Franciscan Medical Group, et al., Respondents

Court Case Number: 01-18-0001-4763
Lawsuit Filed: 04/11/2018

Claimants: CINDIUS ROMNEY as PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE for the ESTATE OF MICHAEL ROMNEY; FARON BAUER; and KRISTEN CHILDRESS, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Claimants
Respondents: FRANCISCAN MEDICAL GROUP, a Washington Corporation; FRANCISCAN HEALTH SYSTEM, a Washington Corporation; FRANCISCAN HEALTH VENTURES, a Washington Corporation; FRANCISCAN NORTHWEST PHYSICIANS HEALTH NETWORK, LLC, a Washington Corporation; and CATHOLIC HEALTH INITIATIVES, a Colorado Corporation, Respondents 

King County Superior Court Lawsuit Information

Case Title: Cindius Romney et al. V. Franciscan Medical Group, et al.

Court Case Number: 13-2-38634-8-KNT
Lawsuit Filed: 11/13/2013
Court: King County Superior Court
Plaintiff: Michael Romney, Faron Bauer; and Kristin Childress, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated
Defendant: FRANCISCAN MEDICAL GROUP, a Washington Corporation; FRANCISCAN HEALTH SYSTEM, a Washington Corporation; FRANCISCAN HEALTH VENTURES, a Washington Corporation; FRANCISCAN NORTHWEST PHYSICIANS HEALTH NETWORK, LLC, a Washington Corporation; and CATHOLIC HEALTH INITIATIVES, a Colorado Corporation

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