Degreed 29 year old should have known she was not reporting to an appropriate law enforcement authority says 11th Court of Appeals.

Blanca Nieto v. Permian Basin Community Centers for MHMR, 11-11-00258-CV (Tex. App. – Eastland, January 30, 2014).

This is a Whistleblower Act case interpreting the Univ. of Tex. Sw. Med. Ctr. at Dallas v. Gentilello, 398 S.W.3d 680, 683 (Tex. 2013) line of cases where an internal report to a supervisor is insufficient to qualify as a report to an appropriate law enforcement authority.  Essentially, Nieto was employed by Permian Basin Community Centers for MHMR (“PBCC”) and reported potential Medicaid fraud to the PBCC’s compliance officer. She felt retaliated against afterwards and resigned. She essentially argued that she reasonably believed the compliance officer was the proper authority.  However, the Eastland Court of Appeals held “We cannot say that a 29-year-old with an undergraduate degree would believe that the executive director or the compliance officer at PBCC regulated or enforced Medicaid/Medicare rules outside of PBCC.”  As a result, it affirmed the trial court’s grant of PBCC’s Plea to the Jurisdiction.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel Wright, C.J., Bailey, J., and McCall (former justice sitting by assignment). Opinion by Chief Justice Wright. The attorney for Nieto is listed as Holly B. Williams. The attorneys for PBCC are listed as Susan R. Richardson, Nate Brignon, and Rick G. Strange.

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