New York, May 5, 2006 -- The former director of an OB/GYN residency program at a Phoenix hospital has filed a newly amended complaint in an Arizona court alleging that county officials violated his freedom of speech when they fired him for publicly supporting abortion training for residents. Dr. J. Christopher Carey, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, and Robbins & Green, P.A., filed the new constitutional claims against Maricopa County and public officials who oversee the Maricopa Medical Center in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. The lawsuit also claims that officials discriminated against Dr. Carey because of his moral and religious beliefs supporting choice.
Dr. Carey, reiterating the allegations of the complaint stated, "Over the course of eighteen months, county officials engaged in a relentless crusade to prevent residents at the medical center from getting abortion training with no regard for fairness or accreditation requirements. Every time I spoke out, they retaliated—launching bogus investigations, spreading false statements to ruin my reputation, and ultimately, firing me."
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requires that all obstetrics and gynecology residency programs make abortion training available to residents who do not have moral or religious objections. As alleged in the complaint, in April 2003, Dr. Carey attempted to get approval from Dr. Marci Moffitt, Director of Medical Education at Maricopa Medical Center ("MMC"), on the continuation of the existing training program, made available to the MMC through an agreement between Phoenix Integrated Residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology ("PIROG") and Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona.
According to the complaint, "Dr. Moffitt, opposed to the availability of abortion as a legal medical procedure, refused to sign the agreement authorizing the continuation of the affiliation between the MMC and Planned Parenthood." She brought the matter to Andrew Kunasek, the Chair of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors, who subsequently advised Mark Hillard, MMC’s Chief Executive Officer, to cease the rotation of PIROG residents at Planned Parenthood for training in abortion and training in family planning.
It is alleged that from that point on, Kunasek and other officials embarked on a campaign to end the training and to force Dr. Carey out of his position, instigating several different investigations that proved to have no basis, including inquiries into allegations around sexual harassment and coercion of residents to perform abortion, and attempting to transfer the residency program to a Catholic Hospital where it would be less difficult to shut down the training.
The tactics escalated each time he wrote a letter or spoke out in protest to the board of supervisors or county officials.
"This is clearly a case of anti-choice extremism run amok with public officials risking their own residency program’s accreditation simply to satisfy their own political agenda," said Sanford Cohen, Deputy Director of the Domestic Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "Personal politics have no place in medical care."
"What has struck me about Dr. Carey is the tremendous amount of work he put into protecting the integrity of the residency program," said Jonathan A. Marshall, a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, who works pro bono on the case.
Eventually in October 2004, the board voted to remove Dr. Carey from his position, claiming he was guilty of self-dealing because his wife, a real estate agent, had included business cards in a mailing that the program sent residency program applicants. In May 2004, an attorney retained by the hospital investigated those claims, and found that Dr. Carey had not violated any rules or regulations.
Dr. Carey initially filed suit against the defendants in August 2005. The defendants in the case include Maricopa County, the Board of Supervisors and its members, including Kunasek.
About the Center for Reproductive Rights
The Center for Reproductive Rights is a nonprofit, legal advocacy organization that promotes and defends the reproductive rights of women worldwide.
About Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is an international law firm of over 1,200 lawyers, including approximately 300 partners. Weil Gotshal is headquartered in New York, with offices in Austin, Boston, Brussels, Budapest, Dallas, Frankfurt, Houston, London, Miami, Munich, Paris, Prague, Providence, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Warsaw, Washington DC and Wilmington.