3 physician-health system contract disputes to be settled in court

From breach of employment allegations to a noncompete clause and a motion to block an exclusive contract with a competing provider, here are three high-profile contract disputes between physicians and health systems in the past two months:

1. St. Louis Heart and Vascular is seeking $50 million in damages from SSM Health after it sued the St. Louis-based system to prevent it from entering into an exclusive contract with another cardiology provider. The lawsuit argues that the contract would limit St. Louis Heart and Vascular's ability "to compete for and treat adult cardiac patients" because it would no longer have privileges at SSM hospitals. SSM said the contract would improve care and business practices.

2. TriHealth sued to enforce a noncompete clause for 18 gastroenterologists aiming to leave the Cincinnati-based system in June. The noncompete clauses prevent the physicians from practicing in the area for one year after leaving TriHealth, unless 75 percent (18 physicians) of the department exits together, among other provisions. Seventeen gastroenterologists told TriHealth of plans to exit contracts on June 28, and another gastroenterologist changed his retirement date from June 30 to June 28. TriHealth sued the physicians to enact the noncompete clause, and argues that the 18th gastroenterologist's retirement date should not be included in the number of gastroenterologists required to avoid the clause.

3. Three orthopedic surgeons filed a countersuit against Adena Health System, alleging the Chillicothe, Ohio-based system retaliated against them and breached their employment contracts. Adena sued the three former employed surgeons, alleging they breached their contracts by pushing other physicians to resign. The surgeons filed a motion to dismiss Adena's suit, claiming it does not have viable cause to support the allegations, and made 14 claims in their May 11 countersuit.

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