Judge dismisses lawsuit over removal of Montana oncologist

A judge dismissed a class-action lawsuit brought by patients against Helena, Mont.-based St. Peter's Health and its CEO Wade Johnson, saying the claims must first be filed with the state's medical legal panel, the Independent Record reported Feb. 2. 

Patients of Tom Weiner, MD, former oncologist at the health system, filed a class-action lawsuit Nov. 13, claiming they weren't notified when St. Peter's dismissed Dr. Weiner, resulting in gaps in their care. 

John Doubek, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he received First District Court Judge Michael Menahan's Feb. 1 decision to dismiss the case without prejudice, indicating they could file again if they first go through the Montana Medical Legal Panel, the Independent Record reports. The medical legal panel was created to avert court actions against healthcare providers and their staff for professional liability in instances where facts don't show malpractice interference. 

"These claims, both in contract and tort, are the purview of the Montana Medical Legal Panel as they fall under the statutory definition of medical malpractice claims," Mr. Menahan said in his ruling on the class-action lawsuit, according to the Independent Record. 

St. Peter's said it was satisfied with the decision, telling the news outlet the health system "felt strongly about the steps we're taking to protect the safety of patients." The health system said it removed Dr. Weiner after learning he had been harming patients for years, including an alleged instance where he incorrectly treated a patient for lung cancer for 11 years who, at the time of their death, did not have the disease. 

Dr. Weiner filed his own lawsuit against St. Peter's in December, claiming he was removed from his position without good cause and that his reputation was damaged. That lawsuit is still pending. 

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