UNION — A physician who claims he is owed money and that his transition into private practice was impeded has filed suit against the Union Hospital District.
In papers filed Tuesday with the Union County Clerk of Court’s Office, Robert Lutz alleges that he was employed with the hospital district from Sept. 17, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2011, and that during that time he and the district “entered into several employment contracts.”
Lutz further alleges that during that time he “performed his duties to the expectations” of the district under those contracts.
He also alleges that the district “exercised its right under the employment contract” and ended his employment, but that there were additional contracts he’d entered into with the district that “demonstrated cooperation into a ‘smooth transition’” from his employment with the district to private practice.
In response to the suit, Tim Merritt, hospital district CEO, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon denying Lutz’s claims and announcing the district’s plans to file a formal response.
“The Union Hospital District is in process of denying Dr. Lutz’s claims,” Merritt said. “We have complied fully with the terms of his contract as well as any other obligations that we have to him. We have acted in good faith both toward Dr. Lutz and to the medical needs of Union County. We will be filing our formal response in due time, since we have just received the actual lawsuit.”
Lutz alleges that hospital district “was responsible for acting in good faith and fair dealings in carrying out the terms of the contract which were mutually agreed upon in writing.”
The suit alleges that on Sept. 17, 2007, Lutz and the district entered into an employment contract that stated that Lutz “would be paid $3,000 per weekend, $500 per weekday coverage, $1,500 per holiday for on call coverage during his employment;” on Oct. 7, 2011, Lutz and an employee of the district enter into a “continuance of the contractual agreement” which didn’t cease until Dec. 31, 2011; and that Lutz and the district “entered into a binding contractual agreement to the payment of bonus monies directly resulting from the Patient Satisfaction Rating Surveys” to be administered by the district.
The suit claims the district “failed to comply with contractual terms” by not paying Lutz a $10,000 bonus “rightfully owed based upon the missed opportunity of the Patient Satisfaction Survey target rating never being established.” It further claims the hospital district owes Lutz “on call wages” totaling $27,000 from the last quarter term of his employment in 2011.
In addition to the bonus and wages it claims Lutz is owed, the suit alleges he has “certain consequential damages relating to storage costs” related to the district’s “unknown yet immediate refusal to pay storage rental fees as agreed upon in a contract.” It claims that this has resulted in a lien being place on Lutz’s equipment in the storage facilities. The suit further alleges the district owes Lutz $320 in storage fees dating from 2011.
The suit alleges the district forced Lutz out of his office before the designated date and thus failed to follow the terms of its contract with Lutz despite agreeing to “good faith cooperation for a smooth transition” into private practice.
It alleges that the district has violated South Carolina law requiring that an employer pay an employee all the wage due him within 48 hours “from the time of separation or the next regular pay day which may not exceed 30 days.” The suit further alleges the district violated state law which states “that any failure to pay owed wages due the employee allows the employee to recover, in a civil action, three times the amount owed in addition to costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.”
The suit alleges that through its employees, the district “breached its duty of care owed” Lutz; has “negligently/grossly negligently opposed the agreed upon ‘smooth transition’ by Lutz into private practice; that Lutz suffered “monetary damages which were foreseeable and could have been avoided” if not for the district’s failure to exercise “reasonable due care” owed him; and that the district “failed to show good faith and support by accurately sending notification” of Lutz’s move into private practice to his patients, thus impeding his “smooth transition into private practice.”
The suit asks that the court award Lutz actual damages; all damages under the Wage Payment Act, including triple damages of all owed and unpaid wages; all contract damages; attorneys fees and costs; and any other relief the court deems appropriate.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.