Orthopedic surgeons fight back against Adena's breach of contract claims

Three orthopedic surgeons disputed Chilliothe, Ohio-based Adena Health System's contract breach and confidential information misuse claims and are asking the courts to dismiss them.

Brian Cohen, MD, Aaron Roberts, MD, and James Troy Thopmson, DO, filed a motion May 13 to dismiss Adena’s lawsuit against them. Adena alleged that the three surgeons, among others, tried to persuade physicians to leave the health system in December and January, which would violate their employment contracts. The lawsuit also accused the surgeons of misusing proprietary information.

The surgeons dispute Adena's allegations in their motion.

"Adena's complaint does not assert a single viable cause of action under Ohio law,” the motion states. “This is unsurprising, since the Complaint was not really filed to vindicate Adena's rights. Rather, its true purpose was to punish and harass the Doctors for exercising their right to terminate their employment with Adena, and to damage their reputations with their patients and in the Ross County and surrounding community in which they worked for years.”

In their motion, the surgeons pointed out that Adena didn't identify any physicians who exited the health system because of their alleged solicitations or show that competitors benefited as a result. Any physicians with plans to leave the health system have not gone to work for a new organization associated with the three surgeons, and the surgeons are not in direct competition with the health system, according to the motion.

All three surgeons resigned in March with plans to leave the system in July, but Adena terminated their contracts early. The surgeons claim that Adena violated their employment contracts because they didn't provide a 30-day notice ahead of termination, as outlined in their contracts.

The motion to dismiss also counters allegations that the surgeons misused "trade secrets" since much of the information was widely distributed internally or published online.

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