Judge orders former Mayfield Brain & Spine surgeon to halt practice after non-compete violation — 6 insights

Shayna Korol -   Print  | Email

A Hamilton County judge ordered neurosurgeon Mario Zuccarello, MD, to stop practicing medicine within a 25-mile radius of Norwood, Ohio-based Mayfield Brain & Spine. Mayfield filed a lawsuit against former partner and vice chairman of the Mayfield board Dr. Zuccarello for allegedly violating a non-compete agreement, the Cincinnati Business Courier reports.

Here are six things to know:


1. The University of Cincinnati Physicians currently employs Dr. Zuccarello, which is affiliated with the UC Health hospital system. In 2017, Mayfield Brain & Spine ended its formal affiliation with UC Health and UC College of Medicine to bring the neurosurgery department fully in-house.


2. Dr. Zuccarello was a physician-shareholder at Mayfield, including ownership interests in a variety of Mayfield-affiliated entities. While Mayfield had a relationship with UC Health, Dr. Zuccarello performed cases at the system's hospital and was named chairman of the neurosurgery department at the UC College of Medicine in 2010.


3. When Mayfield ended its formal relationship with UC Health on July 1, 2017, Dr. Zuccarello continued to perform cases there. In October, Mayfield informed Dr. Zuccarello that his employment would be terminated on Dec. 12 due to his continued involvement with UC Health.


4. As a partner in Mayfield, Dr. Zuccarello had signed a non-compete agreement which bars him from practicing neurology or neurosurgery with 25 miles of any office Mayfield maintains for two years after the termination of his employment.


5. Dr. Zuccarello's lawyers argued in a court filing that under Ohio law, a physician non-competition clause is considered unreasonable when a physician's services "are vital to the health, care and treatment of the public" such that the "demand for his medical expertise is critical" to the community.


"If I am restrained from practicing neurology and neurosurgery for two years in Southwestern Ohio, I'm not sure where I will go or what the patients or (physician) residents who depend on me will do," Dr. Zuccarello stated in a court filing. "While I am fortunate that I do not require the income, this is not how I wish to spend the last few years of my career that began more than 40 years ago in Italy. Further, my patients include many individuals who are not as fortunate and will find it difficult to obtain continuation of care for complicated neurological conditions."


6. The suit claimed that Dr. Zuccarello tried to persuade some Mayfield physicians to quit and become employees and faculty members of UC Physicians. Mayfield has requested a permanent order that Dr. Zuccarello not violate the non-compete agreement and an unspecified sum to compensate the group for damages.


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