An appeals court upheld a Harris County jury verdict awarding a well-regarded Houston heart surgeon $6.4 million in damages after Memorial Hermann Health System defamed his reputation in an effort to protect its business from other hospitals and competitors.
In a case closely watched in the medical community, the court of appeals for the First District of Texas recently upheld the 2017 jury verdict that found Memorial Hermann acted with malice by making false statements about the surgical competence of Dr. Miguel Gomez III.
Gomez, a star at Memorial Hermann hospital until he decided to shift his lucrative practice to Houston Methodist West, sued Memorial Hermann seven years ago, contending the hospital launched a “whisper campaign” to smear his reputation to keep patients from following him to Methodist.
Memorial Hermann said it is is disappointed with the appeals court’s ruling and continues to believe in the merits of the hospital system’s position. Memorial Hermann said it is evaluating options for further judicial review.
The hospital system said its decision to review data on quality was not to hurt Gomez but to improve patient safety, a process that it continues to do today.
Gomez is entitled to receive 5 percent interest on the verdict until the verdict is paid, according to court records.
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