Palomar Health in Escondido on May 23, 2023.
Palomar Health in Escondido on May 23, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The board director of Palomar Health is suing the health care district after Palomar Health’s attorneys told her that she was being investigated for a comment she made to Voice of San Diego

Laurie Edwards-Tate, an elected board member of Palomar Health, said in a press release Wednesday that the district is “threatening to sanction [her]” for conveying concerns to her constituents about Palomar Health’s terms of use agreement

Earlier this month, Palomar Health officials placed an item on the Oct. 9 agenda to discuss taking a vote of no confidence in Edwards-Tate based on the comments she made to Voice. 

The board instead voted to conduct an investigation and revisit the item at a later date. 

Some background: In September, I wrote a story about a terms of use agreement that Palomar officials added to the district’s website in August. Experts agreed that the terms of use were likely in violation of state laws, including the Brown Act and the California Public Records Act, since Palomar Health is a public health care district. 

That’s specifically because of the agreement’s copyright clause, which said users could not copy, reproduce, republish, post, retransmit or distribute in any way any of the information or materials on the website without the prior written consent of Palomar Health. 

That would include meeting agendas, meeting minutes, adopted budgets, financial reports and other public records.   

Since our story, Palomar Health has updated its agreement to allow public records to be copied or distributed. 

The comment in question: Shortly after my story, and before Palomar Health changed the agreement, we provided an update in our Morning Report with a quote from Edwards-Tate expressing her concerns about the terms of use being a barrier to public access. 

According to the complaint filed by Edwards-Tate’s attorneys, she received a Notice of Action from Palomar Health’s attorneys on Oct. 5 via email. 

The email said Edwards-Tate would be investigated for her “participation” in Voice’s article because she most likely violated Palomar Health’s “Media Policy and Code of Conduct.” 

The investigation would determine if “sanctions and/or other remedies are warranted,” the email said. 

According to the Notice of Action email, Palomar Health’s media policy prevented Edwards-Tate from providing her personal opinions to the media without first getting permission from Palomar Health’s chief legal officer or the marketing department to make sure that what she had to say was “coordinated” to mimic Palomar Health’s desired messaging. 

The email also quoted what Palomar Health calls its “Duty of Loyalty” policy and said Edwards-Tate, along with the other board members, are required to not make statements that undermine confidence in Palomar Health or the board. 

“The district’s position here flies in the face of the First Amendment. They are trying to sanction an elected official for telling the people she represents about a policy she disagrees with,” said Dhillon Law Group’s Karin Sweigart, one of Edwards-Tate’s attorneys, in a press release. “It is hard to think of a more blatant infringement on First Amendment speech than the government telling a legislator they cannot tell their constituents they think a government policy is a bad one.”  

Palomar Health officials sent a statement via email. 

“Palomar Health is disappointed Director Edwards-Tate chose to file a baseless lawsuit grounded in her misunderstanding of Palomar Health’s media policy. While all Directors have a right to speak to the public, Palomar Health encourages Board members to notify someone on the Executive Leadership team when they intend to speak to the media—ensuring the information is accurate. Instead, Director Edwards-Tate chose to forgo verification, and as a result disseminated false and misleading information,” the statement said in part. 

Tigist Layne is Voice of San Diego's north county reporter. Contact her directly at or (619) 800-8453. Follow her...

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