A cardiologist at Virginia Commonwealth University has filed a $15 million defamation lawsuit against his employer and several colleagues. Tiziano Scarabelli, MD, PhD, claims his complaints about protocols that could compromise patient safety led to a concerted effort to drum up cause for firing him.
“We have no comment on the pending litigation beyond stating we vigorously deny the allegations and will defend our actions accordingly,” Pamela DiSalvo Lepley, the vice president for university relations at VCU, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
As detailed in the lawsuit, Scarabelli joined the VCU Health System’s MCV Associated Physicians practice in June 2017, serving as the director of the cardio-oncology section within the cardiology division in the department of internal medicine. The suit maintains Scarabelli raised concerns with colleagues about chemotherapy patients not receiving proper monitoring when undergoing treatment.
The suit details email records leveling complaints that Scarabelli was criticizing fellow doctors in front in patients. Shortly after those emails, according to a timeline laid out in legal documents, sexual harassment charges were raised against Scarabelli, and he was soon suspended from his position as the health system engaged in an investigation.
Scarabelli was cleared of the charges in February 2018. The following month, he was told his contracts with MCV Associated Physicians and VCU Health System would both terminate before the end of the year and would not be renewed.
The lawsuit asserts that Scarabelli was not reinstated, despite the investigation into his conduct finding in his favor. The persistent suspension combined with the pending close of his contracts, Scarabelli claims, give the impression that the investigation reached a different conclusion, damaging his personal and professional reputations.
MCV Associated Physicians and three of Scarbelli’s colleagues are named as defendants in the suit, which seeks $10 million in economic damages, $5 milion in non-economic compensatory damages, and $350,000 in punitive damages. The physicians named in the suit didn’t respond to requests for comment by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
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