St. Joseph's/Candler Answer to Hoover Lawsuit - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/24/07

St. Joseph's/Candler Answer to Hoover Lawsuit

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF CHATHAM COUNTY
STATE OF GEORGIA

HERBERT C. HOOVER, JR., M.D.,   )
                                )
     Plaintiff,                 )
                                )
v.                              )
                                )                  
CANCER CARE PAVILION, INC.,     )     CIVIL ACTION
ST. JOSEPH'S/CANDLER HEALTH     )     FILE NO.CV07-0592-KA
SYSTEM, INC., and PAUL P.       )
HINCHEY,                        )
                                )
     Defendants.                )
________________________________)     

                     

ANSWER

     Defendants Cancer Care Pavilion, Inc. ("CCP"), St. Joseph's/Candler Health System, Inc. (the "System"), and Paul P. Hinchey ("Hinchey") (collectively "Defendants") answer the Complaint for Damages of Plaintiff Herbert C. Hoover, Jr. , M.D. ("Dr. Hoover") as follows:

INTRODUCTION

     CCP hired Dr. Hoover as Director of the Nancy N. & J.C. Lewis Cancer and Research Pavilion (the "Pavilion") to assist CCP and the System in carrying out their vision for their cancer program. CCP and Dr. Hoover entered into a written employment agreement effective September 1, 2005 (the "Employment Agreement"), which governed the terms of Dr. Hoover's employment. CCP terminated Dr. Hoover's Employment Agreement sixteen months later because Dr. Hoover breached the Agreement and violated CCP's and the System's policies by engaging in unprofessional and inappropriate conduct. Dr. Hoover's suit and his coordinated publicity campaign are nothing more than attempts to draw attention away and to profit from his own misconduct. Worse, he has attempted to generate public sympathy for himself by using his cancer patients to praise his clinical abilities in press conferences and in letters to Defendants and to the press, even though Dr. Hoover knows and Defendants repeatedly have said that his termination had nothing to do with his clinical skills as a physician.
     CCP terminated Dr. Hoover for two primary reasons. First, CCP terminated him for engaging in insubordinate, unprofessional, divisive, and destructive behavior. In 2006, Dr. Hoover requested that CCP recruit a surgical oncologist, a gynecological oncologist, and a thoracic surgical oncologist for the cancer program. After carefully considering Dr. Hoover's requests, committees of the System's Medical Staff, including the Medical Executive Committee, which is comprised of the physician leaders of the Medical Staff, recommended that a surgical oncologist and a gynecological oncologist be recruited. However, they recommended against recruiting a thoracic surgical oncologist as premature and unnecessary. Defendants agreed with and followed the recommendations of the Medical Staff committees.
    Despite receiving approval of his request to recruit a surgical oncologist and a gynecological oncologist. Dr. Hoover responded to the decision not to recruit a thoracic surgical oncologist in an unprofessional, disruptive, divisive, uncooperative, and insubordinate manner. Instead of respecting the views o'f his colleagues, i.e., physicians who have practiced in the Savannah area for many years, and accepting the decision of his employer, he openly demeaned the qualifications, experience, and judgment of those who dared to disagree with him. He also questioned their competence and motives and impugned their character. He demanded that he get his way, and he threatened Defendants if they failed to give in to his demands. He publicly campaigned against his colleagues and his employer. He tried to drive a wedge between the doctors on the Medical Staff, and he tried to turn the Medical Staff against the System's Administration. Dr. Hoover's insubordinate and disruptive conduct violated his Employment Agreement and the System's and CCP's policies and left Defendants no choice but to terminate his employment.
     Second, CCP terminated Dr. Hoover's employment for repeatedly engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct directed toward CCP''s and the System's female employees. Despite Defendants' warnings that he cease his inappropriate conduct,

Dr. Hoover engaged in repeated acts of inappropriate sexual
harassment, including:

·        Dr. Hoover routinely placed female employees in tight embraces;

·        Dr. Hoover lured one female employee into a private Office and then forcibly embraced her, kissed her on the lips, attempted to introduce his tongue into her mouth, and propositioned her;

·        Dr. Hoover commented on female employees' physical appearance, calling them "sexy," "beautiful," "'gorgeous" and a "China doll";

·        Dr. Hoover was obsessed with one particular female employee, and, on multiple occasions, he grabbed her in a tight, painful embrace and kissed her on the lips in front of other people; and

·        Dr. Hoover slapped another female employee on the backside.

 

     In light of Dr. Hoover's insubordinate, divisive, and disruptive conduct, as well as his repeated violations of the System's sexual harassment policies, CCP was left with no choice but to terminate Dr. Hoover's employment as Director of the Pavilion for cause.
     Dr. Hoover's legal claims and his public statements all are based on one fiction after another. First, the Pavilion and its cancer program are the vision of CCP, the System, and the System's Medical Staff, not Dr. Hoover. The System and its Medical Staff developed the vision for the cancer program long before Dr. Hoover ever arrived in Savannah. CCP hired Dr. Hoover to assist the System and CCP in implementing their vision for a cancer program. Dr. Hoover had no right to manage the Pavilion against the wishes of its owner and the Medical Staff.
     Second, Dr. Hoover relies upon alleged promises that are nowhere to be found in the Employment Agreement. For example, the Agreement does not contain any promise that he would have the unfettered right to hire a thoracic surgical oncologist. On the contrary, Dr. Hoover specifically agreed in the Agreement that it was "essential that the growth of the program involve the physicians currently on the medical staff," and he agreed to increase oncology related inpatient services "with the intent that a large portion of that growth will be realized by those physicians on staff who are willing to be an integral part of the program." With respect to any recruitment of new physicians, Dr. Hoover agreed to work "cohesively with the Physician Advisory Council and the medical staffs of SJ/CHS to obtain support for and recruitment of magnet physicians into the SJ/CHS medical staff."
     Finally, Dr. Hoover's claim that he was terminated because of his desire to recruit a thoracic surgical oncologist is false. Dr. Hoover was terminated because of the unprofessional, divisive, disruptive, uncooperative, and inappropriate manner in which he reacted to and refused to accept the recommendation of his colleagues and the decision of his employer not to hire a
thoracic surgical oncologist at that time and because of his sexual harassment of several female employees.

FIRST DEFENSE

     Defendants respond to the enumerated paragraphs of the Complaint as follows. Except as expressly admitted below, Defendants deny each and every allegation contained in the Complaint.

PARTIES

1.

    Defendants are without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations in paragraph 1, which Defendants therefore deny.

2.

     Defendants admit the allegations in paragraph 2. Defendants also state that they offered to waive service of process pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 9-11-4(d), but Dr. Hoover rejected that offer and chose to cause a process server to serve Defendants personally with the Complaint.

3.

     Defendants admit the allegations in paragraph 3. Defendants also state that they offered to waive service of process pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 9-11-4(d), but Dr. Hoover rejected that offer and chose to cause a process server to serve Defendants personally with the Complaint.

 

 

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