Orthopedic surgeon entitled to salary after Franciscan Health dispute

Alan Condon -  

An Indiana appellate court has ruled that a former Franciscan Health orthopedic surgeon will get the earnings he was guaranteed in his base contract before he was terminated but will not receive performance-based compensation or liquidated damages from the health system, The Indiana Lawyer reported July 14.

Five things to know:

1. Beginning in 2009, Louis Metzman, MD, worked for Mishawaka, Ind.-based Franciscan and was paid according to his worked relative value unit. In 2017, he signed a new two-year contract, which paid him $705,786 a year as a full-time employee.

2. Other types of compensation in Dr. Metzman's contract included $75.63 for each wRVU Metzman performed over the target of 10,369, compensation for time on call, $175 per hour for work done as medical director and up to $7,500 in performance-based compensation upon meeting certain goals, according to the report. He was also entitled to 42 days of paid time off and eight additional days of unpaid leave a year. 

3. In 2017, Dr. Metzman took off 50 days, eight of which he said were unpaid, according to the report. Franciscan prorated Dr. Metzman's base compensation to determine his daily earnings, then deducted eight days' pay, which amounted to $21,716.48, from his 2017 base compensation, according to the report. The health system also denied compensation for 23 hours the surgeon submitted for work as medical director. 

4. In 2018, after Franciscan notified Dr. Metzman that his employment would be terminated in August, the surgeon filed a breach of contract suit alleging the health system failed to pay his full 2017 base compensation and had violated the Indiana Wage Payment Statute, according to the report. Franciacan also allegedly deducted $12,215.52 from Dr. Metzman's 2018 base compensation after he allegedly took paid time off for time he had not yet accrued and denied him performance-based compensation for the year. 

5. After a lengthy legal battle, a court awarded Dr. Metzman $33,932 for unpaid wages in 2017 and 2018; $13,650 in damages for unpaid work done as medical director; and  $390,710 in attorney fees.

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