On March 29, 2017, the jury in the case of Gomez v. Memorial Hermann Hosp. Syst., rendered a verdict against Memorial Hermann in the amount $6.4 million for defaming Dr. Gomez’s reputation and making false statements about his surgical competence. Dr. Gomez sued Memorial Hermann almost five years ago, alleging that it misused the peer review process and manipulated data to harm his practice after he tried to move to another hospital.
Mr. Gomez, a heart surgeon in Houston, Texas, decided to move his practice to Houston Methodist West because of concerns he was having at Memorial Hermann's business practices. In response, doctors at Memorial Hermann joined together to destroy Dr. Gomez’s reputation and prevent patients from following him to Methodist. They manipulated statistical data and misused the peer review process for the financial gain of Memorial Hermann. The jury found that Memorial Hermann made false statements about Dr. Gomez’s surgical competence and mortality rates and shared falsified peer review data with referring cardiologists. In turn, Dr. Gomez’s reputation was harmed.
This is an unusual verdict for a defamation case. Although, Memorial Hermann believes judge Daryl Moore will reduce the award when he enters the judgment, Texas hospitals should now be cognizant of abusing the peer review process to protect their pecuniary interests.
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This article is presented by the Dallas employment law lawyers at Clouse Dunn LLP.