Lawson files lawsuit claiming she was wrongly villainized for Cover Oregon website

Lawson files lawsuit claiming she was wrongly villainized for Cover Oregon website »Play Video
FILE - This Nov. 20, 2013 file photo shows Cover Oregon executive director Rocky King, left, conferring with Oregon Health Authority chief information officer Carolyn Lawson before appearing at legislative hearing on the problems plaguing Cover Oregon, the state's insurance exchange. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. – The battle over Cover Oregon’s faltering website appears headed to the courts.

Carolyn Lawson, the former Oregon Health Exchange CIO, filed a tort claim notice on Monday giving notice she is considering suing the state and several state employees for statements they made about her and for wrongful discharge.

The notice claims the state responded to criticism about the website by “organizing, encouraging, allowing, tolerating and/or engaging in a substantial cover-up.”

The notice names the state; OHA; OHA acting director Tina Edlund; Cover Oregon; Cover Oregon interim director Bruce Goldberg; OHA communication director Patty Wentz; and former Cover Oregon director Rocky King.

READ: You can see the tort claim notice here.

Tort claims are the first step toward fling a lawsuit, and must be provided to a public body that someone believes he or she has grounds.

Lawson’s notice claims the state orchestrated a two-pronged approach to deflect blame, attacking Lawson’s alleged mismanagement and software vendor Oracle’s alleged “serious and fatal blunders.”

The notice also claims Lawson was all but forced to participate in the alleged cover-up by Wentz.

“Somebody has to be held to blame for this,” it claims Wentz said to Lawson. “It’s going to be Rocky, or it’s going to be Oracle, or it’s going to be you. We want it to be Oracle, but it can be you if you want.”

Lawson claims OHA demanded her resignation when she refused to “stick to the script.”

Lawson claims Edlund demanded she step aside.

“You will be resigning today,” Lawson claims Edlund said to her. “It’s going to be for personal reasons. You can write the resignation letter or we will write it for you.”

The subject line on Lawson’s resignation email reads “Re: Resingation (trying again).” In it, she says she resigned because of a death in the family.

Lawson claims she wanted to tell the truth about what had happened.

“OHA’s decision to fire Ms. Lawson because of her desire to speak publicly – and truthfully – about the mismanagement and substantial and specific danger to public health that might result from the actions of OHA and Cover Oregon … constituted a wrongful discharge under Oregon law,” the notice claims.

Full coverage of the troubled Cover Oregon website: