San Bernardino, CA (PRWEB) January 31, 2014
A San Bernardino jury awarded damages of $1.5 million against the medical director of Loma Linda University Medical Center Transplant Institute, Dr. Michael DeVera, for defaming and damaging the reputation of one of his transplant surgeons in Roozorkh v. DeVera, et. al. (San Bernardino Case No. CIVD 1111210).
“The evidence at trial showed that Dr. Hootan Roozrokh observed the attempted manipulation of the status of organ transplant patients at the LLUMC transplant institute. The danger is that patients at other hospitals, who were higher on the transplant list, could die from being deprived of a life-saving organ,” says Los Angeles employment attorney V. James DeSimone of Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP. “Dr. Roozrokh followed procedure by making a formal complaint of ethical violations to Dr. DeVera’s superiors and to human resources.”
During the nine-week trial, testimony by five doctors confirmed that they, too, expressed concerns regarding ethical violations by Dr. DeVera to those appointed by LLUMC to investigate Dr. Roozrokh’s complaints.
“It takes courage to speak out regarding unethical conduct, especially when they involve life and death decisions,” says DeSimone’s co-counsel Vida Holguin of the Law Office of Vida M. Holguin, Hermosa Beach. “Unfortunately, as with most whistleblowers, Dr. Roozrokh was labeled a trouble maker and terminated within one month after he complained of ethical violations.”
The jury found that after Dr. Roozrokh lodged complaints against Dr. DeVera with the president of Loma Linda University Faculty Medical Group, Dr. DeVera began making defamatory comments about Dr. Roozrokh, including such falsities as that Dr. Roozrokh was “incompetent” and “unfit to perform liver transplants.” The jury made an express finding that Dr. deVera acted “with malice, oppression or fraud” meaning that punitive damages could be awarded against Dr. deVera.
“Loma Linda University Medical Center never gave Dr. Roozrokh a chance to prove his reputation as an honest man and physician,” says DeSimone. “Instead, they permitted Dr. DeVera to damage our client’s reputation and to lie about him to other doctors and medical staff. This verdict restored the good name of Dr. Hootan Roozrokh.”