Webster calls on court in dispute with TMH

Dispute with hospital has been ongoing for more than five years

Dr. Joe Webster joined protestors outside TMH last year.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

By St. Clair Murraine

Outlook staff writer

More than 18 months ago, Dr. Joe Webster promised to let the court decide why his privileges at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare were taken away. He contended then that racism was the hospital’s reasoning.

Webster, a Black gastroenterologists who has had a relationship with TMH for more than 30  years, stuck to his word by filing a suit asking for financial compensation for what he called racist practice by the hospital. He also claimed that White doctors aren’t limited to having to treat only indigent patients as it gradually became for him while he was on staff at TMH.

His complaint also states that TMH discriminated against him when it revoked his privileges, while denying him “access on the basis of his race to economic opportunities afforded to other medical staff members.”

Webster is represented by Jack Scarola, a partner in the firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley. 

The hospital recently issued a statement but didn’t specifically acknowledge the suit.

 “Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare addresses all issues, including lawsuits, in a very serious manner,” TMH said in a written statement. “However, we cannot comment on any specific pending litigation.”

The contention between TMH and Webster started in 2013 when he first expressed his concern.

In January of  2017 when a group of protestors showed up outside of TMH in support of Webster, he was granted an administrative hearing. The hospital later held a hastily called press conference at which Dr. Andrea Friall, vice president and chief medical officer at TMH, said the hospital was “fair, thorough and unbiased” in the hearing.

Webster outlined many of the same issues he argued over in his complaint, saying he was omitted from a list of gastroenterologists that emergency room doctors should call.

Speaking publically about the issue for the first time in 2017, Webster said he received just one call in 15 years and many of those patients couldn’t afford the cost.

In his complaint, Webster is asking for compensatory damages, costs and attorneys’ fees, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, and punitive damages.

Webster is seeking a jury trial.

 “What has happened; we approached the administration in good faith to outline some grievances, some things that the community was concerned about,” Webster told the Outlook in 2017. “That’s the lack of representation of Blacks in various level of administration.

“I’ve done everything right, except that I’m Black. We will go until we get full justice.”

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