POINT PLEASANT – Allegations leveled in a Jackson County man's lawsuit could potentially open a new chapter in a long-running legal dispute between two Mason County physicians.
Dr. Shrikant K. Vaidya, a Point Pleasant urologist, and his medical practice, Vaidya Urology Clinic Inc. are named as co-defendants in a two-count wrongful termination suit in Mason Circuit Court. In the suit filed on Nov. 12, Tommy Fouty alleges he was terminated from his position as a lab technician in Vaidya's office last year after he objected to signing a false affidavit relating to a pending civil suit Dr. Danny R. Westmoreland had against Vaidya.
According to his suit, Fouty, 37, a Millwood resident, began his employment with Vaidya on Jan. 1, 2003. Six months later, he participated in a stent removal Vaidya performed on Westmoreland.
In the subsequent lawsuit he filed in 2005 for medical malpractice, Westmoreland alleged the cystoscopy Vaidya performed resulted in him developing Peyronie's Disease, a condition which results in curvature of the penis which causes pain during an erection making sex difficult or impossible, and renal failure Also, Westmoreland alleged Vaidya performed the stent removal without anesthesia, and his assistant helped restrain him after he repeatedly told him to stop the cystoscopy due to the pain it was causing him.
Fouty's suit does not specifically say if he was the one who aided in restraining Westmoreland. Instead, he makes reference to the allegations Westmoreland leveled in his.
In addition to one for medical malpractice, Westmoreland made claims against Vaidya in his suit for fraud, battery and slander. On the latter, Westmoreland based his claim in response to his complaint against Vaidya with the state Board of Medicine.
According to Vaidya, Westmoreland performed intravenous sedation on himself, and the removal of the stent was "uneventful."
Though the case was dismissed on the grounds Westmoreland did not file a required certificate of merit, the state Supreme Court remanded it back to circuit court with instructions he be given additional time to file one. The Court's ruling did not address his fraud, battery and slander claims.
Records show the case was settled on Jan. 6. According to the Board's Web site, Vaidya's insurance carrier, Woodbrook Casualty, paid Westmoreland $125,000.
In his suit, Fouty alleges Vaidya on Nov. 5, 2009, asked him to update his employee file. Among the forms he was asked to complete was one asking for "a brief description of himself and about his performance ability" and "concerning the use of alcohol, tobacco, and/or drugs."
He avers in his six years of employment with Vaidya that was first time he'd ever been asked to provide that information.
After he completed the form, and answered "no" to his use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, Fouty says Vaidya's office manager, Brenda Long, returned it to him saying he need to "'respond with better information.'" Records are unclear if he did, but Fouty alleges Vaidya only asked those questions in an attempt to "find grounds for [his] termination in case they did not find [his] upcoming sworn testimony [in the Westmoreland suit] favorable to their case."
Four days later, Fouty was asked to sign an affidavit saying that Westmoreland brought with him an IV kit with Valium the day of the stent removal. Initially, he refused to sign it "because he believed it to contain misinformation."
Three hours later, the affidavit was reworded to say that he had no knowledge if the IV kit Westmoreland brought with him contained Valium. Again, Fouty says he refused to sign it since it, too, contained "false or misleading information."
However, "for fear of retaliation," Fouty says he signed the second affidavit when he was told he had to sign it despite his objections.
A month later, Fouty says Vaidya asked him to resign. According to his suit, Vaidya said the reason was not job related, but instead since both he and his practice "could not get their medical malpractice insurance renewed."
As a precaution, Fouty asked that Vaidya put that in writing. In a letter dated Dec. 7, Vaidya says "Your services will not be required at Vaidya Urology Clinic, Inc. after December 31, 2009" but makes no mention of his termination coming as a result of lack of insurance coverage.
In his suit, Fouty makes claims against Vaidya and his practice for wrongful termination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. By ordering him to sign an affidavit he knew to be false or misleading, Fouty alleges Vaidya violated state laws dealing with perjury, false swearing and witness intimidation.
Fouty seeks unspecified damages including front pay, back pay and benefits, interest, court costs and attorney fees. He is represented by Jonathan W. Price with the Bell Law Firm in Charleston.
The case is assigned to Judge David W. Nibert.
Mason Circuit Court case number 10-C-140