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Community Health Alliance gets protective order extended against former employee

By Bob Conrad
Published: Last Updated on

The attorney for the Community Health Alliance, which sued a former employee for breach of contract and defamation, said Wednesday the nonprofit is hoping for a quick end to its case.

The case involves CHA’s former statistician, James Fleming, who was fired from CHA after filing a federal complaint against the community health provider.

“We seek to enforce a straightforward agreement,” said CHA attorney Alex Velto. “It defines confidential information in precludes Mr. Fleming from disclosing one of three categories of information, confidential patient information, protected health information, employee records or other proprietary information.”

Fleming, who appeared in court online without an attorney, said he trolled CHA online. At issue were his statements made online that he had access to confidential information and would release it publicly.

Fleming said he was joking in his posts and would not disclose confidential patient information.

Velto called Fleming a liar.

“His pattern of dishonesty in this case makes it near impossible to know what the truth is, he claimed [he] had limitless access to confidential servers,” Velto said today. “Then, when confronted about the statement, he claimed it to be sarcasm. He then swore under penalty of perjury that the information he disclosed was publicly available on one of two websites. But when confronted with the truth, he changed his mind.”

Fleming admitted what he posted was not true. He said, when he posted CHA’s chief administrative officer’s salary of $135,000, that the salary was “a pure guess” that he may have remembered when he worked for CHA, not that he pulled the information from CHA files after he was fired.

He said he contacted the administrative officer, Casey Gillham, directly and apologized for the posts. Fleming then said he deleted the posts. 

“We’re not entirely sure what Mr. Fleming has access to, but we know if it’s confidential, and it relates to healthcare, it cannot be released.”

“I was pretending to have more access than I actually did, just trying to upset … the people who are suing me,” Fleming said. “That’s what I meant by that. If that is his salary, then I accidentally did disclose confidential information.”

Fleming said he emailed himself confidential information from CHA to make a federal complaint.

“[CHA has] known this for a long time, that I announced that I was making a complaint about fraud to [the federal Department of] Health and Human Services…” he said. “I emailed [information] to myself, because I wanted to make sure that, if I was cut off from files, which ended up happening, that I would have a copy of those documents for my complaints to the Office of Inspector General at Health and Human Services. 

“They in fact, did open up an investigation in June of 2021,” Fleming added. “And another investigation into the misuse of COVID emergency relief funds, which were meant to be used for COVID testing. They opened up that investigation into Community Health Alliance in the beginning of November 2021. I was told to be ready for any follow up questions that they might have.”

Fleming said, however, he wants the lawsuit against him to be over. He offered Velto to go through his computers and emails as part of a settlement to end the case.

“I would like to have everything deleted on site,” he said. “You can catalog it and delete it.”

Velto, however, still requested an injunction against Fleming.

“We’re not entirely sure what Mr. Fleming has access to, but we know if it’s confidential, and it relates to healthcare, it cannot be released,” he said. “And that’s why we think this court should enter an order preliminarily enjoining Mr. Fleming from violating the confidentiality agreement, because Mr. Fleming will not be precluded from speaking with an investigator, which we think the investigator’s not going to release the report because we think the statute of limitations has run, and he’s exhausted administrative remedies.”

Washoe County District Judge Kathleen Drakulich said she needed more time to issue a decision in the case. She extended the temporary protective order filed by CHA against Fleming until March 30, 2022 at which point she is expected to rule on the injunction requested by CHA.

CORRECTION: This article was corrected in two places. Fleming filed a federal complaint against CHA prior to being terminated, not afterwards, as originally reported. Fleming also said he trolled CHA in a specific instance, as discussed during the hearing, not for an entire year, as originally reported.

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