Local doctor lands $10M verdict for ER contract dispute

David Yates Oct. 28, 2009, 5:35am


It's no secret to the local medical community that Dr. Kirk Williams was somewhat bitter after he and the Medical Center of Southeast Texas parted ways nearly four years ago.

However, vindication came for Dr. Williams last week as jurors handed him a $10 million award for past and future lost profits – damages that Williams claims he was owed after the Medical Center opted to hire EDCare in his stead back in December 2006.

When it opened in 2005, emergency care at the Medical Center was managed by Apollo ER, a professional association owned by Williams.

When Apollo's contract expired in December 2006, emergency medicine management was awarded to Florida-based EDCare.

Wasting no time, Williams immediately filed suit in Jefferson County, alleging Iasis Healthcare Holdings, which owns the Medical Center, EDCare and several local physicians had entered into secret negotiations to replace his company.

In addition to the suit, Williams also wrote a scathing letter to his colleagues in the medical community expressing just exactly what he thought about the new provider, the new contract and the hospital's parent company.

In turn, EDCare filed suit against Williams, asserting his letter and verbal statements were false and defamatory, as the Record reported back in November 2007.

According to court records, Williams operated Apollo as an emergency medicine management provider for the Medical Center, a 225-bed hospital built in Port Arthur by Iasis Healthcare, which owns and operates 15 medical facilities in Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, Texas and Utah.

For six years prior to the Medical Center's opening, Apollo ER had managed the emergency rooms at two smaller hospitals in Jefferson County that were owned by Iasis. Mid-Jefferson Hospital and Park Place Hospital were eventually closed and merged to create the Medical Center of Southeast Texas.

In late 2006, Iasis offered to renew Apollo's contract for the ER service at the new Medical Center. However, Williams rejected the offer, complaining that the terms of the new contract were unacceptable.

After Williams' rejection, Iasis awarded the contract to Port Arthur Emergency Physicians PLLC, an affiliate of EDCare.

Shortly after Williams filed his suit, Iasis turned and filed a counterclaim against him, alleging he was in breach of promissory notes in the amount of $20,745.86.

According to the charge of the court, filed Oct. 21 in Jefferson County District Court, jurors found that Iasis had interfered with Williams' contract negotiations and cost him and his company $4 million in past profits and $6 million in future profits.

Iasis was represented in part by attorney Curry Cooksey of the Orgain, Bell & Tucker law firm.

Williams was represented by Beaumont attorney Clay Dugas.

Case No. A178-389

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