MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

April 6, 2014

Former emergency room manager sued

Medical firms say doctor’s allegedly shoddy work cost them contract with EASTAR

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Two Colorado companies are seeking lost compensation from a local physician who allegedly breached his employment contract by performing “incompetent and substandard” work.

A petition filed in Muskogee County District Court alleges that poor performance by Dr. Berry Winn resulted in a third-party management provider losing its contract with EASTAR Health System. The plaintiffs, Oklahoma EM-I Medical Services and EmCare Inc., claim damages worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Lawyers from a Tulsa firm allege Winn was hired May 1, 2012, by Oklahoma EM-I to serve as medical director of the emergency department at what was then Muskogee Regional Medical Center. Winn’s duties included the coordination of physicians’ schedules, recommendation of policies for hospital administration, addressing of patient complaints, and reviewing of the quality of services.

The duties outlined in Winn’s employment contract with Oklahoma EM-I were, according to the petition, required by EmCare’s agreement with the hospital. Pursuant to the contractual terms, Winn was to “devote his best efforts to carrying out the business of the employer.”

Winn was unavailable for comment. A spokeswoman at his office said Winn has yet to receive notice of the lawsuit and knows nothing about the allegations set out in the petition.  

The plaintiffs, who are seeking remedies for breach of contract and tortious interference with a contract, allege “Winn failed to oversee the operations in the emergency department” in accordance with the hospital agreement. Hospital administrators, the plaintiffs allege, requested Winn’s termination.

“Despite ... repeated attempts to improve and correct his performance, Dr. Winn continued his substandard and incompetent performance,” plaintiffs allege in the petition. “The substandard performance ... caused EmCare to breach its contract with (the) hospital (and) ruined business relationships between the plaintiffs and the hospital for any future dealings.”

Winn’s alleged conduct, which plaintiffs’ lawyers Colin H. Tucker and Kyle P. Rogers described as reckless and intentional, resulted in the loss of “hundreds of thousands of dollars per month.”

Michael Gilpin, EASTAR’s marketing director, said EmCare was managing the hospital’s emergency services division in 2008, when Capella Healthcare began leasing the city-owned facility. EASTAR’s contractual relationship with EmCare, Gilpin said, was terminated Oct. 31.

Founded in 1972, EmCare outsources services provided by more than 7,000 affiliated physicians and provides those services at more than 500 hospitals across the nation. Oklahoma EM-I is a physician group affiliated with EmCare.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.