Posted by Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C. in News
Feb 9 2021
Dr. Larry Marcus – a Board-certified otolaryngologist (or “ENT”) for nearly 40 years – filed a lawsuit today against his former employer, Westwood Ear, Nose & Throat, P.C. of Waterbury, Litchfield, and Shelton, and its owner, Dr. Christopher Loughlin.
The Complaint – which was filed in Connecticut Superior Court in the Judicial District of Waterbury at docket number UWY-CV-21-6058736-S – brings claims for wrongful termination, defamation, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
Dr. Marcus contends that he was terminated from Westwood in July 2020 because he refused to join in Dr. Loughlin’s campaign to pad Westwood’s coffers by performing surgeries that Westwood’s patients did not need. Specifically, according to Dr. Marcus, Dr. Loughlin and his then-partner pushed their patients toward expensive balloon sinuplasty procedures at a much higher rate than Dr. Marcus believed was indicated or effective. Accordingly, whereas Dr. Marcus recommended invasive balloon procedures for fewer than 30% of his new patients, he says that Dr. Loughlin’s rate hovered around 60% and his then-partner’s around 75%, with substantially higher numbers in Westwood’s Litchfield office (where most patients had private insurance) than in its Waterbury office (where Medicaid – which reimburses physicians at lower rates – was more prevalent).
Dr. Marcus says that Westwood’s practice manager approached him to describe the disparity in the physicians’ balloon surgeries and to exhort Dr. Marcus to increase his number of surgeries. According to Dr. Marcus, when he confronted Dr. Loughlin about the suggestion that he guide his patients toward what he viewed as unnecessary surgeries, Dr. Loughlin responded by coaching Dr. Marcus about how to increase his rate of balloon procedures, including urging Dr. Marcus to stop offering his patients more conservative treatment options. Dr. Marcus says that Dr. Loughlin even encouraged him to manipulate his patients’ records so their insurance companies would approve the unnecessary balloon surgeries. For example, upon information and belief, Dr. Loughlin wrote in his patients’ charts that the patients had tried more conservative treatment options before presenting to Dr. Loughlin, even when they had not. When Dr. Marcus asked Dr. Loughlin about this misleading documentation, Dr. Loughlin allegedly responded, in substance: “The patient wouldn’t be seeing us in the first place if they wanted to try steroids and nasal washes, because they’ve already tried all of that. They’re coming to us as surgical specialists expecting to have surgery done.”
Dr. Marcus asserts that he was terminated for refusing to participate in this practice of Dr. Loughlin’s, which Dr. Marcus considered at best malpractice and at worst outright insurance fraud. Recognizing Dr. Marcus’s objections and his refusal to align his practice with Westwood’s apparent values, Dr. Loughlin allegedly engaged in a concerted attempt to force Dr. Marcus out of the practice. And when that did not work, Dr. Marcus alleges, Dr. Loughlin accused Dr. Marcus of clinical incompetence, falsely terminated him “for cause,” and defamed him in the process, costing Dr. Marcus a job opportunity with another practice in Connecticut.
Connecticut law protects employees from termination because of their refusal to engage in illegal or unethical behavior that violates the public policy of Connecticut or the United States.
Representing Dr. Marcus in his lawsuit are Joshua Goodbaum and Stephen Fitzgerald, both partners at the law firm of Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C. in New Haven.
Westwood and Dr. Loughlin have not yet appeared in court.