Cardiac Surgeon Defamed by NorthBay Medical Center Director Wins $600,000 Damage Award
Arbitrator awards $500,000 in punitive damages for "calculated, sustained, targeted campaign to discredit and disadvantage" local surgeon.
Napa and Solano Counties, CA, October 26, 2015 (Newswire.com) - Dr. Ramzi Deeik, a respected local cardiac surgeon, has been awarded more than $600,000 in damages for defamation and infliction of emotional distress committed by Dr. Robert Klingman, his former business partner and Medical director at NorthBay Medical Center. According to documents filed in the Solano County Superior Court, retired federal court judge Wayne D. Brazil arbitrated the surgeons’ dispute and awarded Dr. Deeik $250,000 in compensatory damages, plus an additional $500,000 in punitive damages. This award was offset by approximately $116,000 to equalize distributions from the doctors’ prior business together.
The conflict began in 2012, when Dr. Klingman made numerous false accusations of embezzlement and other impropriety by Dr. Deeik, and deliberately keyed and vandalized Dr. Deeik’s car in the Queen of the Valley Hospital parking lot. The keying incident was captured by a surveillance camera, and Dr. Klingman subsequently pled no contest to a criminal charge of vandalism. The criminal court also issued a two-year restraining order against Dr. Klingman.
Judge Brazil’s Final Award in the civil dispute states that Dr. Klingman engaged “in a calculated, sustained, targeted campaign to discredit and disadvantage his principal competitor in a small but potentially very lucrative market.” The arbitrator concluded in his Award that Dr. Klingman intended to use his false statements as weapons to injure Dr. Deeik, that they were specifically “directed to the people who could hurt Dr. Deeik the most,” and “were relentlessly repeated and sometimes accompanied by a transparently unrestrained personal vitriol.”
Judge Brazil also found that in his efforts to injure Dr. Deeik, Dr. Klingman was “prepared to violate ethical and legal rules about patient privacy.” The Award states: “Dr. Klingman’s conduct discredits his profession—arguably the most important profession in our world, a profession in which public confidence is critical.”
Dr. Deeik reported Dr. Klingman’s inappropriate behavior to NorthBay Medical Center’s chief medical officer, chief nursing officer and president at the time it was occurring. Despite the arbitrator’s conclusion that Dr. Klingman had engaged in malicious conduct, NorthBay reappointed him as its medical director—a hospital position with control over administrative matters involving Dr. Deeik—which Dr. Deeik contends has restricted NorthBay patients’ access to his care.
“Judge Brazil’s award confirms without any question that Dr. Klingman engaged in a protracted and reprehensible campaign of defamation and actions calculated to destroy my reputation,” says Dr. Deeik. “My focus now will be on trying to reverse the harmful impact of Dr. Klingman’s outrageous actions, continuing to perform the highest quality of surgical services, and hopefully educating the medical community on the critical importance of eliminating disruptive and retaliatory behaviors that undermine patient care.”