Former Sanford neurosurgeon files wrongful termination suit, claims system teamed with federal government to fire him


Wilson Asfora, MD, was terminated by Sanford Health in August after he allegedly violated anti-kickback laws by using medical devices from two companies he owned, reports the Argus Leader. 

Now, lawyers for Dr. Asfora are seeking to dismiss the case and filed a wrongful termination countersuit against the Sioux Falls-based hospital system, claiming the neurosurgeon was a victim of vindictive colleagues.

The lawsuit alleges Sanford fired Dr. Asfora to settle a government whistleblower case. 

In November, Sanford officials agreed to pay the federal government more than $20 million and submit annual audits for the next five years to dismiss the related charges.

The Sanford whistleblowers who brought the suit — orthopedic surgeon Carl Bechtold, MD, and neurosurgeon Bryan Wellman, MD — will receive $3.4 million of the settlement, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The suit also claims that Sanford wanted Dr. Asfora — who joined the system in 2008 — to settle the claims to protect a planned merger with Des Moines, Iowa-based UnityPoint Health, which collapsed in November.

The complaint accuses Sanford of "wrongful termination, wrongful breach of an indemnity agreement, defamation, violation of Dr. Asfora's constitutional rights and conspiracy to violate Dr. Asfora's constitutional rights."

He is seeking punitive damages in a jury trial.

Read the lawsuit in full here.

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