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Breach of contract suit ends in $2.27M award

Mon, 09/19/2011 - 8:45am
The Associated Press

A Hinds County judge has returned a $2.27 million judgment for a doctor who sued a Jackson hospital in a breach of contract case.

Dr. Adolfo Morales, a board-certified ophthalmologist, had alleged Central Mississippi Medical Center breached a physician recruitment contract in 2004, which would have allowed him to establish a surgery practice in Jackson.

CMMC said in court papers the final agreement was never consummated because the home office of its parent company, Health Management Associates Inc. in Naples, Fla., had undergone a change in management that did not approve the deal that previously was struck.

Morales' attorney, Lance Stevens of Jackson, said Morales' career was harmed and HMA's action "embarrassed the fine people that run our local hospital."

CMMC spokeswoman Jana Fuss tells The Clarion-Ledger (http://bit.ly/oRhudx) that the hospital will appeal.

Mark Caraway, lead attorney for CMMC, said, "We feel this was a great injustice, and we are fully confident about the outcome of an appeal."

Morales said in court papers he believes it was corporate officials in Florida who breached the contract without any legitimate excuse. The contract he signed included a signing bonus, a minimum revenue guarantee, relocation expenses, a marketing allowance and certain other benefits, according to court papers.

When the contract wasn't honored, Morales said he did not practice for more than six months, per the agreed protocol, during HMA's delayed decision-making process. He said in court papers HMA's acts created a severe black mark or "gap" in his resume, causing him to remain unemployed for more than three years. The "gap" in practice prevented him from performing surgery for almost five years, he said in the lawsuit.

Morales is a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School. He did his internship and residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and had a fellowship at the University of Arizona. He was living in Decatur, Ill., when CMMC recruited him. Before that, he practiced in Tucson, Ariz. He is now practicing in Harlingen, Texas.

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