Northern Inyo Hospital wins wrongful termination suit

Former Northern Inyo Hospital radiologist, Dr. John Nesson, sued the hospital more than a year ago for alleged wrongful termination. Inyo Judge Dean Stout has now dismissed Nesson’s claims.

In a February, 2010 press release, Nesson’s lawyers claimed he wanted damages for breach of contract and other allegations. The release said that Dr. Nesson believed “his contract to provide radiology services was terminated because he complained about improper safety and privacy practices and other problems at the hospital.”

The hospital filed a motion to strike all causes of actions in Nesson’s complaint. Judge Stout ruled in favor of Northern Inyo Hospital. The Judge’s ruling and order says that all of Dr. Nesson’s claims arose from alleged conduct during medical peer review meetings in which Dr. Nesson’s hospital privileges were suspended. The hospital raised what is called the Anti-Slapp law which protects discussions in settings like a peer review.

The Judge agreed with the hospital that the purpose of Nesson’s lawsuit was to “chill the hospital’s exercise of First Amendment rights” that apparently took place in the peer review setting.

The other point at issue was whether Nesson had exhausted administrative remedies before filing his suit. The Judge found that he had not.

When the suit was filed last year, Northern Inyo Hospital Administrator John Halfen had commented that Nesson’s complaint was “the most bogus” he had seen in his 35 years on the job.

Dr. Nesson was represented by Matthew S. Kenefick and locally Rick Wood. Northern Inyo Hospital was represented by insurance firm attorney Michael Popcke and the hospital’s own attorney, Doug Buchanan.

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