Orlando Health hit with $100M defamation suit by fired physician

A Florida plastic surgeon filed a $100 million defamation lawsuit against Orlando (Fla.) Health Aug. 21, alleging he was fired and made the target of a smear campaign for pointing out unethical and illegal conduct between Orlando Health and Allergan, a pharmaceutical company.

Here are seven things to know:

1. In his lawsuit, which is pending in Florida state court, Jeffrey M. Feiner, MD, alleges he faced retaliation for drawing attention to some Orlando Health physicians ordering excessive and unnecessary products from Allergan in exchange for compensation and other benefits.

2. Dr. Feiner alleges the products were billed to patients, their health insurance, and Medicaid and Medicare, and that Allergan provided the physicians with improper gifts in return.

3. Dr. Feiner claims he refused to engage in the illegal activity, and Orlando Health allegedly terminated his employment in retaliation.

4. After his firing, Orlando Health allegedly began a smear campaign against Dr. Feiner that was designed to hide the real reason for his termination. According to the complaint, Orlando Health physicians, at the insistence of corporate leadership, spread malicious lies about Dr. Feiner, including that he had been fired for throwing knives at patients in the operating room and threatening to kill someone.

5. Orlando Health's "false statements go to the very heart of Dr. Feiner's fitness to practice medicine, particularly as a surgeon," states the complaint. "These false statements are designed to destroy Dr. Feiner's professional reputation and prevent both his patients and peers from questing [sic] the abrupt, unceremonious termination of an accomplished and popular surgeon."

6. The complaint seeks $100 million in damages against Orlando Health for defamation per se.

7. An Orlando Health spokesperson told Becker's Hospital Review it denies Dr. Feiner's allegations. "We generally do not comment on pending litigation but can confirm that we strongly deny this physician's allegations and this suit will be vigorously defended," the spokesperson said. Allergan declined to comment on the case, stating that it doesn't comment on legal matters.

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