State, federal lawsuits filed against hospital

WhidbeyHealth is being sued in state and federal court for allegedly violating the state Open Public Records Act and for alleged age discrimination.

Dr. James Elbaor, of Texas, filed a complaint for damages against the hospital district in U.S. District Court March 30. He’s asking for an undisclosed amount of money.

The lawsuit states that a WhidbeyHealth physician recruiter contacted Elbaor in 2016 and encouraged him to apply for an orthopedic surgeon position at the hospital. He is “highly qualified,” the lawsuit states; he completed his residency at Harvard University, served as a captain in the U.S Army Reserve and was commanding officer of an Army Reserve medical attachment.

The lawsuit states that the hospital’s human resources department started contacting Elbaor during the interviewing process and asking him his age. He did not provide his age, but hospital officials discovered he was over 70 years old, the lawsuit states.

Hospital staff members decided not to hire Elbaor because of his age; staff members were asked to “help contrive a pretextual reason not to hire Dr. Elbaor,” the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit also alleges that the hospital’s actions violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination, inflicted emotional distress, breached the “covenant of good faith and fair dealing” and breached a promise to consider the doctor’s application.

Then on April 27, Elbaor’s attorney, Gregory Albert of Seattle, filed a complaint in Island County Superior Court for injunctive relief and statutory damages.

The lawsuit states that Albert made a public records request to the hospital for documents related to Elbaor’s case. The lawsuit claims that the hospital missed multiple deadlines to produce the documents without communicating the cause of the delay or requesting additional time, which is a violation of the Open Public Records Act.

Albert claims that it’s been four months since he made the records request, and he hasn’t received any documents. The lawsuit states the hospital stopped communicating altogether with Albert.

“On information and belief, WhidbeyHealth is withholding documents because they are damaging to its defense in the federal court action,” the lawsuit states.

The hospital’s general counsel, Jake Kempton, said in an email that the hospital does not comment on pending litigation.

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