3 physicians suing their former employers in 2024

Here are three lawsuits involving physicians taking action against their former employers that Becker's has reported on in 2024:

1. A free speech lawsuit filed by Michael Joyner, MD, against his former employer, Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, is set to go before a jury in July 2025. Dr. Joyner filed the suit in November, alleging the health system violated his protected speech following his suspension after publicly criticizing the National Institutes of Health.

The suit alleges that between 2020 and 2023, Mayo Clinic retaliated against Dr. Joyner for comments made during interviews. He also alleges the health system fabricated reports of problematic behavior to justify firing him in 2023. 

2. Urologist Eric Rottenberg, MD, has sued his former employer, Scranton, Pa.-based Commonwealth Health Physician Network, for enforcing a noncompete agreement that limits his ability to practice locally. Dr. Rottenberg worked for several of the health system's hospital locations from May to November 2023 through a three-year contract, which includes a clause barring him from working within a 20-mile radius that would be enforced for the following two years. 

In December, he was recruited by Allentown, Pa.-based Lehigh Valley Physician Group, which has facilities within 20 miles of Commonwealth's facilities. Dr. Rottenberg and his legal team claim the noncompete is unenforceable without a protectable business interest. 

3. Otolaryngologist Yi Kao, MD, filed a suit alleging his former employer, Mount Nittany Medical Center, alleging it wrongly terminated his privileges. Dr. Kao began performing cases at State College, Pa.-based health system in 1992 and became employed by Mount Nittany Physician's Group in 2020. His privileges at the hospital were terminated in June 2023 after the state medical board issued a subpoena concerning Dr. Kao earlier in the year.

The lawsuit alleges a staff member reported Dr. Kao's hands trembled during a procedure and he had complained of vision issues. Dr. Kao underwent an evaluation by two ophthalmologists who said he was capable of performing surgical procedures.

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