SIKESTON -- Ferguson Medical Group has settled its differences with Dr. Anthony Poole.
The dispute began in 2002 when Poole and four other physicians, Fred Thornton, Loring R. Helfrich, Fred K. Uthoff and Kevin P. Rankin, left FMG after which the group filed suit against the five doctors.
FMG alleged in the suit that the departing physicians failed to honor the terms of their partnership agreement with the remaining doctors at FMG when they left to work for Missouri Delta Medical Center.
According to a press release from FMG regarding the settlement, Poole agreed to pay Ferguson's claim with interest when Poole's Chapter 11 Reorganization Plan proposed by FMG was approved by Judge Barry S. Schermer, chief U.S. bankruptcy judge.
"It has been a long, drawn-out process for all of us, but at the end of the day, Tony Poole honored his contractual obligations to his former partners at FMG," said Dr. Jimmy Heath, FMG's managing partner. "We respect Dr. Poole for having the courage to do the right thing."
"This settlement is indeed a victory for FMG," Heath added. "Our group of doctors has never wavered on its insistence that our former partners honor their contractual obligations."
"After hearing my name on the radio and seeing the news release in the New Madrid paper, I finally understand what 'putting your spin on the facts' really means," Poole said in response to Ferguson's press release. "I left Ferguson Medical Group in 2002 after almost 20 years as a partner. I left because I did not agree with their change in philosophy and their new leadership. I thought this was a breach of my contract. FMG thought it was a breach of my 'restrictive covenant' to leave the group yet continue to practice in Sikeston.
"After over four years of paying legal fees, having to take time out of my practice to go to one court or another to answer motions, and watching the effect that this was having on my family and community, I declared a Chapter 11 bankruptcy which is a reorganization of debts to be paid over five years. Ferguson Medical Group will get a portion of this on a monthly basis. The portion equals less than one-third of what they were suing me for.
"Their news release makes it sound like they are getting all they demanded plus interest which is obviously not the case. What is true is that my portion of this case is over and my family and I can now put it behind us. Drs. Thornton, Helfrich, Rankin, Uthoff and their families still have more of this to go through and our prayers will be with them. We also pray for healing of the injuries that this has inflicted on our community."
A trial is scheduled for Oct. 16 in the suit filed by FMG against the other four physicians.