Lutheran Health deepens lawsuit against ex-CEO

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Brian Bauer planned to “take over” and sell Lutheran Health Network at least nine months before he was fired, according to new details in a growing lawsuit against the healthcare group’s former CEO that now accuses him of breach of contract and breach of his duty of loyalty to boot.

In an amended complaint obtained by NewsChannel 15 this week, Lutheran Health Network claims Bauer breached his contract with the healthcare group by sharing confidential or proprietary knowledge, making statements critical of CHS and Lutheran Health and soliciting employment of CHS and Lutheran employees. He also breached his duty of loyalty by his “multiple clandestine and unauthorized attempts to sell LHN to third parties and his work with the group of Indiana doctors to devalue, damage, and disparage LHN,” according to the amended complaint.

The new details come after Lutheran Health Network filed a lawsuit in Williamson County, Tennessee, where LHN owner Community Health Systems is based, against Bauer in November that claimed Bauer as Lutheran’s CEO breached his contract with the health network and defamed and disparaged it by “interfering with existing and prospective business relationships.”

The suit claimed Bauer engaged in “unlawful conduct” after the failed bid by threatening to harm Lutheran’s business. In a “long-planning scheme,” Bauer disrupted Lutheran’s normal business, interfered with patient, customer and physician relations, and “(sowed) the seeds of unfounded fear with hospital staffs and, no doubt, patients,” the lawsuit alleges.

The suit alleged that Bauer, from October 2016 and even after his firing in June 2017, spread confidential and proprietary information about CHS’s affiliates to competitors under a pseudonym, Sajin Young. In a Facebook account created in August, “Sajin Young” shares regular updates and opinions about CHS and Lutheran, including current CEO Mike Poore.

The suit claimed Bauer did so to drive Lutheran from the Fort Wayne market to advance his own economic interests.

“Bauer’s actions are causing immediate and irreparable harm to (Lutheran),” the suit read. “The continued dissemination and use of confidential information, and the solicitation of current employees of CHSI and its affiliates in the course of his engagement by IU Health and otherwise are damaging CHSI’s and (Lutheran’s) businesses and their reputation in the Fort Wayne community. These harms are not fully compensated by monetary damages.”

The suit asked the court to award Lutheran compensatory and punitive damages in an amount determined at trial, and require Bauer to cease all activities in violation of his contract, including making defamatory statements.

Bauer himself filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in early December.

In a statement to NewsChannel 15, Bauer said, “I look forward to challenging these baseless attacks and claims. It’s mine and my family’s hope we can move forward as a community and focus on providing great care to our patients and a healthy work environment for our providers. The future for healthcare in Fort Wayne and our region is exciting.”

Bauer was fired in June after a group of 10 physicians put in a bid to buy the hospital system. CHS rejected the $2.4 billion offer. He was recently named the leader of IU Health’s planned primary care medical office in Fort Wayne, which was announced last year.

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