Two radiologists have filed a lawsuit against Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, claiming the hospital created a radiology monopoly and forced them out of their practice without reason.
Dr. Frank Rembert, Dr. Michael Paradise and Bozeman Radiology filed the lawsuit in Gallatin County District Court last week, seeking unnamed damages caused by the hospital’s breach of contract and unfair trade practices, the lawsuit states.
According to court documents, Rembert and Paradise were employees and 22.5 percent shareholders in Deaconess-Intercity Imaging — a radiology facility and joint venture with the hospital. The hospital held the remaining majority shares.
Rembert claims the hospital drove him out of the practice because he complained when BDH administrators sided with cardiologists who did not want to work after “normal office hours” in a vascular lab that he was helping design in 2008.
“Dr. Rembert expressed his view that cardiologists should be required to take calls for those same procedures they performed during normal office hours,” attorney Devlan Geddes of Bozeman law firm Goetz, Baldwin & Geddes wrote in the court document. “His concerns related to continuity and quality of care.”
Unhappy with Rembert, BDH tried to use its “influence to encourage” Paradise, the radiology facility’s director, to fire him, the lawsuit contends. But Paradise refused.
Paradise contends the hospital then targeted him, too.
Hospital spokeswoman Connie Martin said the hospital has not received the lawsuit and had no comment.
The doctors also claim BDH refused to negotiate a new contract with the radiology practice unless they were fired.
“Dr. Rembert and Dr. Paradise were allegedly terminated for cause, without any notice, without any explanation of the reasons why and without any opportunity to defend themselves,” the lawsuit states. With their terminations, the hospital effectively stripped the doctors’ privileges to practice at BDH.
Though the doctors were granted medical privileges again in 2011, the hospital denied them access to its medical-imaging records and excluded them from monthly radiology committee meetings, they claim.
The hospital interfered with the doctors’ ability to practice at the hospital and in essence in the Bozeman area, they said.
The hospital is also guilty of unfair trade practices, the lawsuit states.
The only radiology facilities in the Bozeman area are the joint venture, of which BDH holds the majority share, and the hospital itself, effectively creating “a monopoly in the sale of diagnostic imaging services,” the lawsuit claims.
The doctors are seeking compensatory, punitive and other damages, including three times their actual damages for the unfair trade assertion.