A prosthetics company cannot block a former employee from seeing 10 patients he worked with before joining a rival firm, a judge has decided.
Maryland Orthotics & Prosthetics Co. Inc. already received a damage award against Dennis G. Haun — a jury awarded it $152,460 in February — as well as a pretrial settlement from Haun’s new employer, Metro Prosthetics Inc. However, MDOP also wanted an injunction against Haun for allegedly “perpetuating a fraud” by diverting patients to Metro.
Judge Michael J. Finifter on Monday denied MDOP’s request for the injunction in Baltimore County Circuit Court, finding in part there was no irreparable injury because of the jury award, according Debra B. Cruz, one of Haun’s lawyers.
The judge also said “the public interest was best served by allowing the patients to be free to make their own decisions about their care,” according to Cruz, a principal at Levin & Gann P.A. in Towson.
Cruz said Haun felt “intense relief” after hearing the decision.
Howard J. Schulman, a lawyer for MDOP, said it was unlikely his client would appeal the ruling but no decision has been made.
Finifter also ordered Haun to remove from his computer systems any protected health information taken from MDOP’s system, Schulman said.
Haun left MDOP in December 2011 after a decade with the company. MDOP filed suit two months later alleging Haun had decided to leave in January 2011 and spent the rest of the year “actively and secretly acting as a competitor.”
In particular, it claimed he “targeted, diverted and delayed treatment to 10 key, high-end patients that he cherry-picked so that he would have work in progress and cash flow when he left MDOP,” the court filing states.
Haun’s lawyers said he never signed a noncompete agreement and therefore was free to compete with MDOP once he left the company.
More than 60 patients followed Haun to Metro. Haun’s lawyers said most did not know Haun was leaving MDOP and reconnected with him at Metro on their own.
The litigation in the case will continue in June, according to Schulman, when MDOP’s motion for sanctions against Haun stemming from the earlier phase of the litigation will be heard.
MDOP claims Haun admitted he gave false testimony as to his whereabouts the night he allegedly copied digital files from MDOP’s office in the days before he left the firm. Haun’s claim led MDOP to obtain cellphone analysis to determine Haun’s whereabouts, according to court documents.
MDOP is seeking more than $36,000 in attorney’s fees and reimbursement for experts’ fees, according to court documents.
Monday’s ruling in Baltimore County also came on the same day as MDOP was heard in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore on its objection to Haun’s filing for bankruptcy in June 2013 on the eve of the original trial date, leading to a postponement. A bankruptcy judge later lifted the stay, resulting in the jury trial earlier this year.
MDOP sought to make the state-court judgment enforceable despite Haun’s bankruptcy filing.
Monday’s hearing concerned the firm’s attempt to force Haun’s first attorney in the civil litigation to turn over billing records to determine whether Haun or Metro owed thousands of dollars in legal fees to Leonard H. Pazulski, an Ellicott City lawyer who initially represented Haun.
Haun’s bankruptcy filing listed nearly $900,000 in assets but more than $3.5 million in liabilities, including a $3 million business debt to MDOP.