New Jersey orthopedic surgeon, city pay $425K to settle former firefighter's injury leave suit

Alan Condon -  

Robert Kayal, MD, and Kayal Orthopedic Center paid $225,000 as part of a $425,000 settlement in a lawsuit that accused a New Jersey city and its physicians of wrongfully attempting to terminate the employment of a former fire captain over his injury leave, northjersey.com reported Jan. 4.

The city of Paterson, N.J., will pay the remaining $200,000 of the settlement. Both defendants denied wrongdoing, according to the report.

The lawsuit stems from a 2017 incident in which James Reyes was fired for allegedly performing demanding tasks at home — such as shoveling snow and lifting garbage cans — while on paid leave for a work injury, according to the report. The termination was overturned when Mr. Reyes appealed the decision to the New Jersey Civil Service Commission.

Paramus city officials came under fire in 2018 for recruiting risk manager Samir Goow to curtail bogus workers' compensation claims. Around the time of Mr. Reyes' termination, city officials cited images of the now-retired firefighter performing domestic tasks. Investigators hired by Mr. Goow allegedly captured the photo and video footage.

In a separate controversy, Mr. Goow faced disciplinary charges for adding three medical practices — including Kayal Orthopedic Center and a pain management provider — to the workers' compensation program without authorization. More than $2.3 million was paid to the three practices through the program in 2017, according to northjersey.com.

Mr. Reyes argued in his lawsuit that Kayal Orthopedic Center did not provide him with proper care and that Mr. Goow tried to make an example of him to frighten other firefighters on injury leave to return to work, according to the report.

 

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