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Md. stent doctor can't sue employer after signing agreement

A Maryland cardiologist, who is dealing with a high-profile case about questionable stent procedures, will not be able to sue his employer for defamation, a Baltimore County judge ruled Monday.

The employment dispute stems from a class action lawsuit filed against the doctor and his employer, St. Joseph Medical Center, in 2010. The suit was in relation to potentially unneeded stent procedures that Dr. Mark Midei provided at the hospital. More complaints followed and the hospital ultimately agreed to pay $22 million to settle a whistleblower suit, but did not admit any guilt.

The cardiologist is accused of implanting unnecessary stents in up to 369 patients, and he believes that throughout these accusations his employer made him a scapegoat for a scheme that the hospital was backing. Midei claims the hospital is responsible for destroying his reputation and leaving him unemployed. He sought $60 million in damages on each of four separate counts.

But a Maryland judge said Midei gave up his right to sue his employer when he signed a separation release. He apparently signed the release while he was aware of ongoing state and federal investigations into his stent procedures. Midei said he signed the release under the impression that St. Joseph's was going to help him find new employment. He said he was not aware that the hospital was going to warn 600 other patients about the issue, prompting more lawsuits.

Midei is likely going to appeal this decision. This ongoing case is very complex and touches on a variety of legal issues. This specific claim dismissal illustrates the significance of employment contracts and severance or separation agreements. These legal documents are very serious and it is always wise to have an employment law attorney review any employment contract that you may sign.

Source: Baltimore Sun, "Judge: St. Joseph's couldn't have duped Midei," Scott Dance, April 24, 2012

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