East Texas doctor accuses medical center of defamation

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Nov. 8, 2010, 5:48am

TYLER-An East Texas physician claims a health center reported false information about him and ruined his medical career.

Dr. Mauricio Giraldo filed suit against East Texas Medical Center and Dr. James Blake Harrison in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division on Oct. 26.

According to the plaintiff's original complaint, Giraldo is a Hispanic, Harvard-trained, licensed surgeon who entered a professional services agreement with East Texas Medical Center in 2004 to serve as an accredited transplant surgeon at the transport surgery center located in Tyler.

Giraldo states that soon after his arrival at the East Texas Medical Center, his economic competitors began sabotaging his medical practice and began to attack his professional reputation in the hospital and the medical community.

Specifically, Giraldo argues that defendant Dr. James Harrison, a direct economic competitor, began to restrict Giraldo's privileges. Under the restrictions, Giraldo was only allowed to perform non-complicated surgeries. He states he made repeated requests for an opportunity for notice and hearing but each request was ignored.

With the restrictions and the alleged defamatory statements, Giraldo states it was increasingly necessary to refer his surgical patients to other doctors which caused a severe decline in his practice and financial losses.

Giraldo submitted his resignation from the East Texas Medical Center. When Giraldo attempted to open a new medical laser practice in Frisco and applied for privileges at Baylor Medical Center, he learned Baylor had received an adverse report from East Texas Medical Center.

The report states that Giraldo's transplant privileges had been summarily suspended. Giraldo states the actions have resulted in an inability to practice surgery and his medical career is ruined.

The defendants are accused of violations of the Health Care Quality Improvement Act and Texas Health & Safety Code, the Civil Rights Act, defamation, breach of contract, tortuous interference with business and with a prospective business relationship, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence infliction of emotional distress and anticompetitive and anti-trust violations.

Giraldo is asking the court to issue a permanent injunction preventing the defendants from further false reporting and for an award of damages for severe emotional distress and mental suffering, $100,000 for medical expenses, actual damages, punitive damages, court costs and interest.

The plaintiff is represented by Jeffrey C. Grass of Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Grass in Plano.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider is assigned to the case.

Case No. 6:10-cv-00563

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