With claims of $1 million at stake, Bullivant won summary judgment motions in the Superior Court of Benton County, Washington, in two related cases involving an anesthesiologist, his former practice, and a patient and her husband.
At issue in the first case was whether the anesthesiology practice was vicariously liable for the intentional acts of a practice member accused of fondling an anesthetized patient during surgery. Bullivant argued that the anesthesiology practice could not be held vicariously liable for its agent’s conduct, which was admittedly intentional and outside the scope of what was required to perform his job, even if it was purportedly intended to serve a legitimate medical purpose. Benton County Superior Court Judge Vic L. VanderSchoor agreed with defendant and granted summary judgment in its favor, denying plaintiff’s claims.
In the second case, the accused physician, who had resigned when the accusations were raised, subsequently sued the practice, claiming he was entitled to 90 days’ notice under his physician services contract, and asked the court for 90 days’ lost wages, benefits, and premiums for his insurance coverage, and his attorneys’ fees and costs under Washington’s wrongful discharge and wage withholding statutes. Bullivant argued the doctor’s resignation was voluntary and the doctor’s conduct amounted to gross misconduct, which triggered an automatic-termination clause in the contract, making notice unnecessary. The court dismissed his claims in their entirety.
Press Coverage: And the Defense Wins