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Hospital limits exposure in tortious interference claim

An outspoken emergency room doctor who was fired from her practice group last year has lost a chance for substantial damages from the Salem hospital she claimed subverted her career.

Karen Alldredge encouraged nurses who sought better working conditions at Lewis-Gale Medical Center.  Hospital administrators called her an “organizational terrorist” and made their displeasure known to the practice group of emergency physicians, which promptly fired Alldredge last May.  She sued the hospital for $10 million claiming tortious interference with her employment contract.

At trial today, Roanoke Circuit Judge Jonathan Apgar rejected Alldredge’s economic damages evidence based on “irreparable” career damage because, he held, her evidence failed to show she could not be hired in the private sector.  Alldredge now practices at a Veteran’s Administration hospital emergency department.

Apgar also denied the doctor’s bid for punitive damages, leaving her with a potential claim for only ten weeks of missed work.

Apgar rejected the hospital’s motion to strike the claim for tortious interference with contract.  The case is set to go to a jury Friday morning.

By Peter Vieth

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