Lutheran Health suing ex-CEO for defamation scheme

Local News

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WANE) Fort Wayne based Lutheran Health Network has filed a lawsuit against its former CEO, Brian Bauer. The suit was filed in Williamson County, Tennessee, where LHN owner Community Health Systems is based.

The suit claims 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.”

Bauer was recently named the leader of IU Health’s planned primary care medical office in Fort Wayne, which was announced last week.

In June, the former LHN CEO was removed from his position after a group of 10 physicians put in a bid to buy the hospital system. CHS rejected the $2.4 billion offer.

The suit claims 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 alleges 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 claims 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 reads. “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 asks 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.

In a statement to NewsChannel 15, Bauer said he’s been advised by counsel not to comment on litigation. He added, though: “I can assure you these allegations are without merit.”

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