Carson-Tahoe Hospital officials said they were pleased Monday with a senior district court judge's decision to dismiss claims of fraud, unlawful restraint of trade, unfair business practices and conspiracy alleged in a lawsuit filed by a doctor after the hospital placed a moratorium on gastric bypass surgery.
Senior District Judge Carl Christiansen, however, allowed several claims to go forward in the lawsuit filed by bariatric surgeon Dr. Kent Skogerson. The remaining claims include negligence and defamation, breach of contract, violation of due process, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and interference with contractual relations.
"We stand by the actions taken in the interest of promoting patient safety and improving care provided at C-TH," said Ed Epperson, hospital chief operating officer. "We will continue to vigorously defend the remaining allegations within the lawsuit because Carson-Tahoe Hospital has done nothing wrong."
Skogerson filed the lawsuit after the hospital ordered the doctor to stop performing bariatric surgeries while the program was being reviewed in December. When the moratorium was ordered, about 25 patients were scheduled for surgery to reduce the size of their stomachs to fight obesity. As many as 82 patients were affected.
Skogerson claims the moratorium effectively shut down his practice. The hospital ended the moratorium Feb. 1, the same day Skogerson filed the lawsuit. While other doctors have since performed gastric bypass surgery, Skogerson hasn't.
Hospital lawyers have argued the court has no power to determine proper policies and protocols for patient care.
Patrick King, a lawyer for Skogerson and a group of patients also suing the hospital, said he is pleased the court did not accept the hospital's position that it is beyond judicial review.
"We were confident that the district court judge would not dismiss Dr. Skogerson's complaint against Carson-Tahoe Hospital," King said. "We will look forward to having our day in court and in proving that the defendants and the hospital acted negligently and in bad faith toward Dr. Skogerson and his many patients."
The patients recently asked the courts to certify the case as a class-action lawsuit. In June, a district court judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit filed by patients against the hospital and related defendants, but dismissed claims charging patient abandonment and infliction of emotional distress.
Kevin Stansbury, C-TH chief operating officer, said Christiansen's ruling to dismiss four of the claims will allow the hospital to focus on a smaller array of complaints.
"There were a large number of complaints filed," Stansbury said. "By cleaning it up some, we will be better able to defend ourselves. From the hospital's perspective, we're very pleased the judge did dismiss those complaints. We feel the entire lawsuit is baseless."
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