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Campbell v. District of Columbia

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

June 29, 2018

Jennifer B. Campbell, Appellee
District of Columbia, A Municipal Corporation, Appellant Wayne Turnage, In his official capacity as Director, District of Columbia Department of Health Care Finance, Appellee

          Argued September 22, 2017

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:12-cv-01769)

          Holly M. Johnson, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, argued the cause for appellant. With her on the briefs were Karl A. Racine, Attorney General, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, and Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy Solicitor General.

          David C. Codell argued the cause for appellee. On the brief were Alan Lescht and Sara N. McDonough. Rani V. Rolston and Susan L. Kruger entered appearances.

          Before: Griffith and Pillard, Circuit Judges, and Edwards, Senior Circuit Judge.



         Jennifer Campbell worked as a healthcare executive for the District of Columbia until she was fired based on accusations that she had improperly influenced the bidding process for the District's healthcare contracts. Campbell sued the District, alleging it had violated her Fifth Amendment due-process rights by leaking these accusations to the press and denying her an opportunity to refute them. A jury returned a verdict for Campbell on one of her due-process claims, and the district court refused to set it aside. The District appeals that decision, but we affirm the judgment of the district court.



         In 2010, the District's Department of Health Care Finance ("Department") formed the Health Care Reform and Innovation Administration ("Administration") to establish the health-insurance exchange the District decided to create in response to the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Administration divided this project into a planning phase and an implementation phase. Through a competitive bidding process, the Administration selected contractors to carry out the work of each phase. The contract for planning was worth approximately $1M. The contract for implementing those plans was worth almost $75M.

         In 2011, Jennifer Campbell became the director of the Administration, and in 2012, she was promoted to chief operating officer for the entire Department. She had worked at the Department since 2008, and prior to that she had held several high-level positions in the healthcare industry.

         In 2012, the owner of the company that won the contract for the planning phase, Compass Solutions, contacted a former Department employee and reported that Campbell was steering contracts to certain contractors in violation of normal bidding procedures. This information was relayed to Department director Wayne Turnage around June 2, though the record is unclear on the precise date. Turnage spoke with the owner of Compass Solutions, who offered "a litany of allegations" against Campbell supported by emails and text messages. The owner also recommended Turnage speak with CGI Technologies and Solutions ("CGI"), a company that had withdrawn from bidding for the implementation contract. Turnage did and heard from a CGI executive that Campbell had contacted CGI, unsolicited, and urged the company to partner its bid with a politically connected contractor named Darryl Wiggins. The executive said she had "never been approached that way by a government entity involved in procurement." After seeking the advice of its general counsel, CGI decided to "forgo any business with the District."

         On June 3, 2012, Turnage emailed his chief of staff and the Mayor's office to inform them of the allegations against Campbell and his plan to investigate. Turnage also told the director of human resources that he planned to place Campbell on administrative leave and would most likely fire her. The following day, the Department's human resources office put Campbell on administrative leave but refused to answer her questions about the specific allegations lodged against her. Later that day, Campbell emailed Turnage's chief of staff and asked for an "opportunity to defend [her] professional reputation and more importantly [her] integrity." But Campbell never received an opportunity to refute the allegations.

         Around June 7, the Mayor's staff allowed a reporter from the Washington City Paper to review Turnage's emails relating to the investigation. When the reporter informed Turnage a few days later that he had the relevant emails about Campbell, Turnage sent him several emails to provide additional background on the investigation.

         The following morning, the Washington City Paper published a story under the headline "Health Care Finance COO Fired over Contract Steering Allegations." The article described the allegations against Campbell, relying in large measure on Turnage's emails. Reading the article was the first time Campbell learned the specific allegations against her. She was terminated later that day. Turnage then shared the emails with the Washington ...

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