OrthoSC intentionally sabotaged residency program to protect monopoly, lawsuit says

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – OrthoSC is accused of intentionally sabotaging a residency program to protect a monopoly in the area, according to a lawsuit filed last week.

The lawsuit, filed Nov. 11 by Dr. Scott F. Duncan, lists OrthoSC, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, Dr. Gene Massey, HCA Physician Services and Grand Strand Surgical Specialists as defendants.

The lawsuit claims Duncan was recruited by HCA in 2017 while working in Boston and was hired to be the program director of an advanced medical education (GME) orthopedic surgery residency program at GSRMC.

Duncan would have been promised the role for five years starting in the summer of 2017, according to the lawsuit. The contract was also expected to be renewed if the program was successful.

The lawsuit claims that before and after Duncan’s hiring, HCA promised that if OrthoSC refused to provide professors for the program, HCA would hire its own professor.

Based on the promises, Duncan signed a written contract on May 1, 2017, according to the lawsuit. He started working on the program in July 2017.

In 2018, Duncan began interviewing and recruiting professors for the program after OrthoSC showed he disagreed with the plan to use their professor. The lawsuit claims Duncan emailed Massey on November 7 to express interest in Massey and two other doctors on the program with a deadline to respond of November 14.

The lawsuit claims Massey responded on November 12 stating they needed time to discuss and requested a new November 21 deadline. After November 12, Massey is accused of sending an email to the chairman of the South East Atlantic Division of the HCA – who was also in charge of the faculty at the Grand Strand Regional Medical Center – stating that ‘OrthoSC would remove all of their surgical cases from the GSRMC and move them to different hospitals that compete with HCA if they continue with the GME program.

The lawsuit also accuses Massey of calling the chairman of the HCA’s Southeast Atlantic Division and repeating the threats in the email, stating that “OrthoSC and its member doctors” did not want to train. their competitors “and that the GME program threatened the defendant OrthoSC’s monopoly in the relevant market in Myrtle Beach, Conway and Murrells Inlet,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that due to Massey’s threats, the program was canceled, despite previous promises. He claims that in April 2021 Duncan’s contract was canceled without cause and his hospital privileges at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center were revoked without explanation.

The lawsuit accuses Massey and OrthoSC of conspiracy and intentional interference with the contract. The lawsuit accuses the two of harming the general public by threatening to move medical procedures to other facilities.

Massey and OrthoSC are also charged with violating South Carolina’s unfair business practices law.

Duncan is also suing HCA for breach of contract for terminating the contract and failing to pay him the promised base salary. HCA is also accused of violating South Carolina’s law on the payment of wages.

Duncan seeks unspecified monetary damages and requests a jury trial.

In a statement to News13, the Grand Strand Regional Medical Center said it was aware of a former employee’s trial and had no comment. OrthoSC and HCA have yet to respond to a request for comment.

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