Texas surgery center asks appeals court to vacate $8M award to physician

Houston Metro Ortho and Spine Surgery Center asked the appeals court for the 14th District of Texas to vacate an $8 million award Harris County District Court awarded Richard Francis, MD, because of the language in Dr. Francis' employment contract, Law360 reports.

Dr. Francis was one of eight physicians and an ambulance service to invest in Houston Metro in 2011. All parties agreed to perform the majority of the surgeries at the ASC, which would open in April 2012.

All the parties entered into a contract that allowed them to perform a third of their procedures at other healthcare facilities. The contract also included a noncompete clause.

Dr. Francis' caseload allegedly began declining in 2014 because he performed Medicare procedures. His records showed he was performing the majority of his procedures at other centers. Houston Metro stated in legal documents it would never seek Medicare certification.

In October 2014, the ASC's board fired Dr. Francis for violating his noncompete clause. Dr. Francis accepted the termination in November 2014.

In April 2015, the surgery center sued Dr. Francis to enforce its noncompete clause and then filed an additional claim, to which Dr. Francis responded by filing conversion and unjust enrichment claims. The ASC claims the circuit wrongly banned evidence about Dr. Francis' departure, which led to the court granting Dr. Francis an $8 million award for his ownership stake in the surgery center.

The center is now asking an appeals court to either eliminate the award or grant a retrial. The center argues the language in its employment contracts specified that Dr. Francis was only entitled to his $195,000 investment.

More articles on surgery centers:
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Work begins on new ASC in Arizona — 3 details
SCA centers added 1,000+ new surgeons in 2020 so far: 5 things to know

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