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Roberts v. Legacy Meridian Park Hosp., Inc.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

April 10, 2015

WARREN G. ROBERTS, M.D., F.A.A.N.S., an individual, and ASPEN SPINE AND NEUROSURGERY CENTER, P.C., an Oregon professional corporation, Plaintiffs,
v.
LEGACY MERIDIAN PARK HOSPITAL, INC., an Oregon non-profit corporation, d/b/a/ LEGACY MERIDIAN PARK MEDICAL CENTER, an Oregon assumed business name; FRANCISCO X. SOLDEVILLA, M.D., an individual; NORTHWEST NEUROSURGICAL ASSOCIATES, LLC, an Oregon limited liability corporation, ROBERT L. TATSUMI, M.D., an individual; TIMOTHY L. KEENEN, M.D., an individual; PACIFIC SPINE SPECIALISTS, LLC, an Oregon limited liability corporation; and ANDREW B. CRAMER, M.D., an individual, Defendants

For Plaintiffs: Micah D. Fargey, FARGEY LAW PC, Lake Oswego, OR.

For Legacy Meridian Park Hospital, Inc. and Andrew B. Cramer, M.D., Defendants: Keith S. Dubanevich and Keil M. Mueller, STOLL STOLL BERNE LOKTING & SHLACHTER, P.C., Portland, OR.

For Northwest Neurosurgical Associates, LLC and Francisco X. Soldevilla, M.D., Defendants: Robert D. Scholz and Megan L. Farris, MACMILLAN SCHOLZ & MARKS, P.C., Portland, OR.

For Pacific Spine Specialists, LLC., Defendant: Elizabeth E. Lampson and Christopher M. Parker, DAVIS ROTHWELL EARLE & XOCHIHUA, P.C., Portland, OR.

For Timothy L. Keenen, M.D., Defendant: Karen M. O'Kasey and Calliste J. Korach, HART WAGNER, LLP, Portland, OR.

For Robert L. Tatsumi, M.D., Defendant: Jeffrey W. Hansen, Stephen R. Rasmussen, and Joseph A. Rohner, IV, SMITH FREED & EBERHARD, P.C., Portland, OR and James L. Dumas and Michael J. Estok, LINDSAY HART, LLP, Portland, OR.

Page 1246

OPINION AND ORDER

Michael H. Simon, United States District Judge.

Defendants state that this lawsuit has been settled by agreement reached with Plaintiffs' then-counsel acting within the scope of his authority. Plaintiffs disagree. After filing a motion to enforce the alleged settlement and receiving a declaration in response from the lead Plaintiff denying that his then-counsel had authority to settle, Defendants filed a Joint Motion to Declare Partial Waiver of Attorney-Client Privilege. Dkt. 137. For the following

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reasons and subject to the contingencies and limitations described below, this motion is granted in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Warren G. Roberts, M.D., is a neurological surgeon and the owner of Plaintiff Aspen Spine and Neurosurgery Center, P.C. In Plaintiffs' Fourth Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege claims of tortious interference with economic relations, breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, racial discrimination in violation of state and federal law, and conspiracy to restrain trade and attempted monopolization in violation of state and federal antitrust laws.

According to Defendants, on October 17, 2014, Plaintiffs, through Plaintiffs' then-counsel Mark McDougal, offered to settle this lawsuit by dismissing all claims against Defendant Timothy L. Keenen, M.D. in exchange for a waiver of any fees and costs. Defendants further contend that on October 20, 2014, Defendant Keenen, through counsel, accepted Plaintiffs' offer. Defendants also contend that between October 17, 2014, and October 20, 2014, similar settlement offers were extended by Plaintiffs' then-counsel to all Defendants, the only material terms of which were the exchange of mutual releases of all claims, counterclaims, and demands for fees and costs. Defendants add that they all accepted the terms of Plaintiffs' settlement offer, with the sole exception of Defendant Francisco X. Soldevilla, M.D., who requested, as an additional settlement term, that he receive a letter signed by Dr. Roberts or his counsel confirming that no money was paid or other consideration was given by Dr. Soldevilla in exchange for the mutual releases. According to Defendants, Plaintiffs' then-counsel stated that he had no objection to writing such a letter for Dr. Soldevilla.

Defendants further state that on October 29, 2014, they sent a draft stipulation of dismissal to Plaintiffs' then-counsel Mr. McDougal. According to Defendants, Mr. McDougal reported that he approved the form of the stipulation but added that he was scheduled to meet with his client Dr. Roberts on November 14, 2014, and that Defendants' counsel were not yet authorized to file the stipulation of dismissal until after Mr. McDougal met with Dr. Roberts. Defendants further assert that on November 17, Mr. McDougal told Defendants' counsel that he soon either would authorize Defendants to file the stipulation or would move to withdraw as Plaintiffs' counsel.

On November 17, 2014, Mr. McDougal and his law firm, Kafoury & McDougal, moved to withdraw as Plaintiffs' counsel and for a stay of discovery. In his supporting declaration, Mr. McDougal states:

1. The firm of Kafoury & McDougal agreed to represent Dr. Roberts on a contingent fee basis in the above-entitled litigation. The law firm of Kafoury & McDougal has expended considerable hours in representing Dr. Roberts and Aspen Spine and Neurosurgery Center, PC.
2. Irreconcilable differences have arisen between Dr. Roberts and the law firm of Kafoury & McDougal.
3. Kafoury & McDougal has been advancing costs in this matter. Unless withdrawal is granted, Kafoury & McDougal would be required to continue to advance costs and hundreds of hours of contingent attorney time. It is anticipated that numerous experts would be required, and that there will be numerous depositions. All of these costs and attorney time would have to be borne by Kafoury & McDougal pending the outcome of this case, pursuant to the terms

Page 1248

of their standard contingency fee agreement.

4. Recent events involving the parties and negotiation of potential resolution of this case have created these irreconcilable differences.
5. Plaintiffs have been advised of plaintiffs' counsel's instant motion to withdraw from this case.
6. On October 17, the plaintiffs made a settlement offer. All defendants have responded. Plaintiffs and plaintiffs' counsel have irreconcilable differences with regard to the path of this litigation.
7. Depositions in this case have not yet begun. Depositions were currently scheduled to start on Wednesday, November 19.
8. Because of the settlement posture, Dr. Roberts has not been prepared for his deposition. The current irreconcilable differences between Dr. Roberts and his counsel would make deposition preparation (even assuming there was adequate time) extremely difficult.
9. The final facts and circumstances giving rise to this motion to withdraw occurred on Friday, November 14, in the afternoon. This motion is being drafted and filed on Monday morning, November 17.

Dkt. 119. On November 18, 2014, the Court granted the motion to withdraw and to stay discovery, as filed by Plaintiffs' then-counsel.

On December 15, 2014, Defendants filed a Joint Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement. Dkt. 123. Plaintiffs requested additional time to retain new counsel and respond to Defendants' motion, which was allowed. On January 12, 2015, Plaintiffs' new counsel, Mr. Fargey, entered his appearance for Plaintiffs and filed Plaintiffs' opposition to Defendants' Joint Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement.

In support of Plaintiffs' opposition to Defendants' Joint Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement, Plaintiffs submitted the Declaration of Dr. Roberts. In his declaration, Dr. Roberts states:

1. I am one of the plaintiffs in this matter and owner of the other plaintiff, Aspen Spine and Neurosurgery Center, P.C. (" Aspen Spine" ). I make this declaration in opposition to Defendants' " Joint Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement." I have personal knowledge of the facts set forth below and, if called to ...

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