Mount Carmel Health Systems and three physicians discriminated against a Columbus doctor who is black, a federal jury concluded. The all-white, eight-member jury awarded Dr. Vincent L. Guinn damages of $3.7 million late Friday in his civil lawsuit against Mount Carmel and Drs. Michael R. Murnane, Barney B. Beaver and Thomas R. Alexis.
Mount Carmel Health Systems and three physicians discriminated against a Columbus doctor who is black, a federal jury concluded.
The all-white, eight-member jury awarded Dr. Vincent L. Guinn damages of $3.7 million late Friday in his civil lawsuit against Mount Carmel and Drs. Michael R. Murnane, Barney B. Beaver and Thomas R. Alexis.
Also, as part of a settlement reached during the trial, the defendants agreed not to appeal the jury’s decision.
“It’s a great outcome; he’s been vindicated,” said attorney James S. Mowery Jr., who represented Guinn.
Guinn sued after a hospital review committee and the board of trustees suspended his privileges with Mount Carmel in 2007 and 2008, claiming that his care of one patient had fallen below standards.
Guinn had his own practice in electrophysiology and cardiac care, and after the suspension he was not permitted to implant devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators at Mount Carmel.
He had been vice chairman or chairman of Mount Carmel Medical Center’s cardiovascular disease department from 1998 to 2002.
Guinn contended that Murnane, Beaver and Alexis conspired to drive Guinn away from Mount Carmel so he would not compete with them.
Guinn argued that the charges against him were trumped up and that white doctors with privileges at Mount Carmel had not been suspended when similar accusations had been made against them.
“We demonstrated that white doctors who were similarly situated did not have this happen,” Mowery said. “This would never have happened to a white doctor.”
The jury found that the hospital system and the three doctors discriminated against Guinn based on race. The jury had found that a fourth doctor, Dr. Medard R. Lutmerding, had not discriminated against Guinn.
The jury also found that Murnane, Beaver and Alexis conspired against Guinn and that Murnane was guilty of defamation by negligence and tortious interference with business relations.
Jurors awarded Guinn $700,000 from Murnane on the defamation and tortious interference charges.
The jury awarded him $1.5 million on the discrimination charge and $1.5 million on the conspiracy charge. The defendants are jointly responsible for the payments.
Guinn, 58, now practices at Grant Medical Center and has his own practice.
Jason Koma, a spokesman for Mount Carmel, said that while hospital officials are disappointed with the jury’s decision, they are pleased that the case is behind them.
“We believe the process in question (peer review) was undertaken in the sincere belief that it was in the best interests of our patients and had nothing to do with race,” Koma said.