After a 13-day trial, Dr. Vincent Guinn prevailed in his race discrimination case against Mount Carmel Health in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division. Dr. Guinn was represented by Attorneys James S. Mowery Jr. and Nicholas W. Yaeger of Mowery Youell & Galeano, Ltd. ("MYG") in the matter. A central Ohio jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Guinn on all pending counts and awarded the doctor over 3 million dollars in compensatory damages plus attorneys' fees.
Specifically, Dr. Guinn asserted claims against Mount Carmel Health and several individual doctors within the Mount Carmel Health System for intentional discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (discrimination in contracts) 42 U.S.C. § 1985 (conspiracy to discriminate), defamation, and intentional interference with business relationships.
Dr. Guinn's claims were created by defendants "sham peer review" claiming the doctor had performed a procedure on a single patient below the standard of care. Absent medical record review or any investigating, the medical staff leadership gave him an ultimatum: (1) voluntarily give up his medical privileges without any indication of their allegation, or (2) they would suspend him. In either case, there were no assurances his privileges would ever be restored. Dr. Guinn invoked his rights and went through the administrative peer review process.
Throughout the peer review process, witnesses on behalf of the hospital and individual doctors gave conflicting testimony, inaccurate assertions of the Dr. Guinn's care to his long time patient, and failed to conduct any meaningful investigation. The peer review process unlawfully revoked Dr. Guinn's privileges. As a result, Dr. Guinn filed the race discrimination action in 2009.
The first big hurdle MYG overcame was to obtain a Court Order invalidating the Medical Peer Review Privilege that exists pursuant to both federal and state law. MYG proved there was proof of intentional discrimination and that the hospital and individual defendants could not hide behind the peer review privilege. After overcoming the privilege, MYG secured over 10,000 documents and located evidence demonstrating white physicians were treated more fairly than Dr. Guinn.
The white physicians, unlike Dr. Guinn, did not have any immediate action taken against their privileges despite significantly worse complications, including the death of patients. MYG successfully defeated Defendants' motion for summary judgment wherein the defendants asked for the case to be thrown out of court as a matter of law. Less than two percent of intentional discrimination cases succeed in reaching a jury.
The matter proceeded to trial. Dr. Guinn had nationally known and highly respected experts, both in Electrophysiology (Dr. Guinn's area of specialty) and hospital peer review. Through the cross examination of the Defendants, and the direct examination of Dr. Guinn and his experts, Dr. Guinn proved that the individual doctors who had brought the alleged "patient safety concern" to light were all competitors of Dr. Guinn and that, in at least two instances, would benefit from Dr. Guinn's departure from the medical staff by increasing their patient volume. Further, that at least one of the individual defendants referred to Dr. Guinn as a "bottom feeder." It was also established that Mount Carmel merely "rubberstamped" each and every action of its white medical staff.
The hospital's pursued its defense that it should not be liable for its individual doctor/employees because it followed its bylaws with regard to their actions. However, MYG proved that the hospital intentionally ignored the process in which the bylaws were applied to Dr. Guinn versus white doctors, who had significant poor performance including patient deaths.
Ultimately attorneys Jim Mowery and Nick Yaeger were able to help Dr. Guinn find justice as the jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Guinn and found that Mount Carmel and its white medical staff intentionally discriminated against Dr. Guinn. Dr. Guinn continues to successfully practice and numerous other hospitals around central Ohio and his name has been cleared of the unfounded allegations.
BY: Nicholas W. Yaeger