United States District Court, D. Arizona
Jack B. Keenan, M.D., an individual, Plaintiff,
Maricopa County Special Health Care District, d.b.a. Maricopa Integrated Health System, a political subdivision of the State, et al., Defendants.
RUSSEL HOLLAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Elizabeth M.N. Ferguson, M.D., and Tammy R. Kopelman, M.D.,
move to dismiss plaintiff's claims against
them. This motion is opposed. Oral argument was
not requested and is not deemed necessary.
is Jack B. Keenan, M.D. Defendants are the Maricopa County
Special Health Care District, d/b/a Maricopa Integrated
Health System (MIHS); Elizabeth M.N. Ferguson, M.D.; and
Tammy R. Kopelman, M.D.
alleges that he was a resident physician in MIHS' General
Surgery Training Program. Plaintiff began his residency on June
Ferguson is alleged to have been the Program Director and the
Designated Institutional Officer for MIHS' residency
program. Dr. Ferguson is alleged to be an employee
Kopelman is alleged to have been the attending physician in
the Trauma Department. Dr. Kopelman is alleged to be an employee
alleges that “between November 2016 and March 2017, Dr.
Kopelman and Dr. Ferguson directly documented, or encouraged
senior residents to document a series of false
complaints” against him. More specifically, plaintiff
alleges that Dr. Kopelman falsely claimed that he did not
perform an eye exam on a patient who presented to the
emergency room complaining of an eye injury. Plaintiff
also alleges that shortly thereafter, “Dr. Kopelman
falsely documented in [his] personnel file that he had
ignored an emergency department patient who was pulseless in
an extremity for a medically significant period of
alleges that on February 2, 2017, Dr. Ferguson informed him
that Dr. Kopelman was giving him a failing grade for his
November 2016 Trauma rotation. Plaintiff alleges that Dr.
Ferguson placed him on “Concern Status” that same
alleges that Dr. Kopelman also gave him a failing grade for a
second Trauma rotation that he completed in early February
alleges that on March 31, 2017, Dr. Ferguson falsely accused
him of “threatening to engage in a physical altercation
with another resident in the ICU. . . .”
alleges that he was placed on probation on April 10,
2017. Dr. Ferguson is alleged to have signed
the April 10 probation letter. Plaintiff alleges that he was
told in the letter that he was being placed on probation for
• Threat of physical altercation to colleague at bedside
of SICU on 3/31.
• Worked Friday day, 4/7/17 despite the call schedule
clearly stating night call. When chief resident noted
discrepancy, Dr. Keenan was sent home & unable to return
to shift until 11PM.
• No call/no show today (4/10/17).
• Failure to return loaner pager and respond to multiple
inquiries by switchboard.
further alleges that on April 17, 2017, Dr. Ferguson informed
him that he had received a failing grade for his general
surgery rotation, which he had recently
completed.Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Ferguson
“pressured the attending who had supervised the general
surgery rotation to change” his grade from a pass to a
alleges that he “timely contested the accuracy and
sufficiency of the allegations in the April 10, notice of
probation.” Plaintiff alleges that a hearing on the
probation notice was held on May 18, 2017. Plaintiff
alleges that Dr. Ferguson was allowed to “submit and
comment on a broad range of allegations” including the
failed general surgery rotation,  an event that occurred
after he had received the probation notice.
alleges that on May 25, 2017, he met with Dr. Chandrika
Shankar, the Probation Appeals Committee Chair, and Phyllis
Thackrak, the Director of Academic Affairs, “at which
time, Dr. Shankar and Ms. Thackrak presented to [him] a
written letter signed by the Appeals Committee that day
advising that the Appeals Committee concluded that the
decision to place him on probation was not arbitrary or taken
without reasonable cause.” At that meeting,
plaintiff advised Dr. Shankar and Ms. Thackrak that “he
had recorded conversations of his attendings that
unequivocally contradicted statements presented to the
Appeals Committee during the” May 18, 2017
alleges that Dr. Ferguson “used the recordings as a
basis to terminate” him.Plaintiff alleges that he was
notified by Dr. Eric Katz in a letter signed on May 30, 2017
that “MIHS was beginning the process to terminate his
medical resident employment agreement.”Plaintiff
alleges that he was advised that he was being terminated for
violating MIHS Policy 69752-S, which governs the use of
cameras and video or audio recorders in the
“workplace.”Plaintiff also alleges that he was
advised that he was being terminated for violating
“MIHS Policy 77127 which requires employees to maintain
high standards of honesty and integrity.”
commenced this action on May 24, 2018. In his complaint,
plaintiff asserts defamation claims against Dr. Ferguson and
Dr. Kopelman. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Ferguson and Dr.
Kopelman “defamed [him] by repeatedly making statements
that [they] knew or should ...