Chronicle Staff | Posted: Friday, February 10, 2012
A Bozeman nurse who claims she was fired after acting as a surrogate mother for a patient has settled her wrongful discharge lawsuit with Billings Clinic.
Anicee Acosta-Yearick contended that Billings Clinic wrongly fired her for ethics violations when she agreed to carry the patient’s baby in 2009, according to court documents.
Acosta-Yearick worked for Bozeman OB/GYN, owned by Billings Clinic, for 16 years before she was fired in January 2010. She was fired because “as a licensed professional nurse, she used her knowledge of private, protected health information to influence and solicit a Billings Clinic patient to enter into a surrogacy contract resulting in personal gain,” which violates the nursing and clinic codes of conduct, court documents state.
Billings Clinic filed an ethics violation complaint against Acosta-Yearick with the Montana Nursing Board, but the board decided the complaint did not justify legal or disciplinary action, according to court records.
Acosta-Yearick claimed she is friendly with the couple who asked for her help, court documents state, and she did not ask for money other than expenses.
Medical providers, who worked with Acosta-Yearick, supported her decision to be a surrogate mother for the patient. They submitted written statements that called into question the clinic’s motives for firing Acosta-Yearick.
The clinic filed to dismiss the case, saying state law protects employers from being sued for wrongful discharge when they have good cause. The clinic’s attorney claimed the accusations of insurance fraud, ethics violations and Acosta-Yearick’s decision to make money from the surrogacy were all valid reasons for firing her.
A Gallatin County judge’s order closing the wrongful discharge lawsuit didn’t include the settlement amount.
In a separate complaint, the insurance commissioner ordered health insurer New West Health Services to pay Acosta-Yearick’s medical bills for maternity care. New West had originally withdrawn its coverage after learning of the surrogate pregnancy.
A federal lawsuit against New West also has been settled and closed.