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Doctor with Parkinson’s claimed he was forced out of job






North Carolina


Wake County


Wake County, Superior Court

Case Type:

Employment – Retaliation; Discrimination – Disability; Employment – Wages and Hours, Wrongful Termination, Disability Discrimination; Intentional Torts – Tortious Interference with a Contract, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Case Name:

Eric Rappaport v. Raleigh OB/GYN Centre,
No. 14 CVS 1438


August 26, 2015



Eric Rappaport (Male, 50 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Robert E. Zaytoun;
Zaytoun Law Firm;
Eric Rappaport ■ John R. Taylor;
Zaytoun Law Firm;
Eric Rappaport ■ Matthew D. Ballew;
Zaytoun Law Firm;
Eric Rappaport

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Mark Stacy; M.D.; Neurology; Durham,
NC called by:
Robert E. Zaytoun, John R. Taylor, Matthew D. Ballew ■ Keith Hull; M.D.; Neurology; Raleigh,
NC called by:
Robert E. Zaytoun, John R. Taylor, Matthew D. Ballew ■ Daniel Clarke-Pearson; M.D.; Gynecology; Chapel Hill,
NC called by:
Robert E. Zaytoun, John R. Taylor, Matthew D. Ballew


Raleigh OB/GYN Centre

Defense Attorney(s):

William H. Foster;
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, L.L.P.;
Raleigh OB/GYN Centre


Beginning in February 2010, plaintiff Eric Rappaport, 50, a gynecologist, alleged that a concerted effort began to force him to leave his job as a physician at Raleigh OB/GYN Centre. Dr. Rappaport had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in July 2007. At the time of his diagnosis, Dr. Rappaport was a partner and senior physician at Raleigh OB/GYN Centre and had hospital privileges at Rex Hospital. In 2008, out of concern for patient quality control issues, Dr. Rappaport discontinued his hospital practice and restricted himself to providing limited medical services in a medical office environment. Dr. Rappaport alleged that a group of the clinic’s physicians informed him in February 2010 that he had to leave the practice within six months. In April 2010, Dr. Rappaport said he was given a termination letter stating an intention to let him go because of "financial hardships," but he refused to leave the practice. Then, in December 2010, an anonymous physician complaint was lodged with the North Carolina Medical Board, alleging that Dr. Rappaport had been seen struggling to butter his bagel and bumping into walls. The "concerned physician," as the letter was signed, expressed disbelief that Rappaport was still allowed to practice medicine. In January 2011, Dr. Rappaport’s treating neurologist sent the Medical Board a letter stating that Rappaport was safe to practice. The chair of the UNC School of Medicine’s OB/GYN department also evaluated Dr. Rappaport using, among other methods, a torso simulator at the medical school, and found him fit. In December 2011, a neurologist from Duke University Hospital’s Neurological Disorders Clinic also found Rappaport safe to practice. Over the next several months, the board investigated the matter and, in April 2012, cleared Rappaport to practice without restriction. He returned to the clinic where, as he alleged, there were continued efforts to make it difficult for him to practice. In June 2013, Dr. Rappaport filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging the clinic’s managers were discriminating against him because of his disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. On Aug. 1, 2013, Dr. Rappaport was involuntarily placed on administrative leave or suspension. The leave/suspension was pending a fitness-for-duty evaluation. Dr. Rappaport refused to participate in the fitness-for-duty evaluation and the clinic officially fired him on Jan.10, 2014, citing his refusal to be evaluated, among other things. Dr. Rappaport sued Raleigh OB/GYN for discrimination. The lawsuit alleged wrongful discharge, failure to pay wages, intentional infliction of emotional distress and tortious interference with a contract. He also alleged retaliation. At trial, the plaintiff introduced evidence that the April 2010 termination letter and other maneuvers by the clinic management were designed to make the clinic’s actions "look legal." Dr. Rappaport argued that, when he refused to leave voluntarily, efforts were then made to squeeze him out of the practice by limiting his access to new patients and trying to damage the trust of existing patients by inquiries about their confidence in him, given his condition. Shortly after the EEOC complaint was filed in June 2013, Dr. Rappaport alleged that several of the doctors in the practice met with the clinic’s staff. From that meeting, a memorandum was drafted, which said the staff members had concerns about Rappaport’s ability to practice medicine. The timing of that meeting and the timing of the resulting actions taken against Dr. Rappaport loomed large at the trial. At trial, the plaintiff accused the defendant of destroying the notes of that meeting. There was a memo, purportedly created on July 10, 2013, to document what was told to the doctors at the meeting. But plaintiff contended there were multiple versions of who, how and when the memo was created, who took notes, and what documents were destroyed. A court-ordered forensic computer search reportedly determined that the memo was not created on July 10, but on July 31. The plaintiff also presented evidence that Dr. Rappaport’s Parkinson’s disease symptoms are a mild resting tremor of his left hand (he is right-hand dominant). There was also evidence presented that he has no cognitive deficits whatsoever. A trial, a demonstration was performed where Dr. Rappaport repeated the test of his practice skills on a torso-shaped simulator. Other medical experts testified that Dr. Rappaport’s symptoms were relatively mild and, with proper medication, did not interfere with him continuing to practice gynecology. Raleigh OB/GYN denied the plaintiff’s allegations and contended that all actions taken against Dr. Rappaport were in the interest of patient safety and quality of medical care.


Dr. Rappaport sought compensatory damages for the economic damages associated with the loss of employment and non-economic damages in the nature of emotional distress associated with his tort theories of liability.


The jury found for the plaintiff on all of his claims. The jury also determined that Dr. Rappaport was retaliated against after he filed his discrimination complaint with the EEOC. The jury determined that the plaintiff’s damages totaled $871,603, consisting of $467,603 in compensatory damages and $404,000 in punitive damages. There was an additional sanctions hearing, presided over by the trial judge, who found that one of the clinic’s doctors had falsified testimony by failing to disclose that the July 10 memo was actually created on July 31. Accordingly, the court awarded plaintiff attorney’s fees and the cost of hiring computer consultants, the amount of which is still to be determined.

Trial Information:


Bryon Collins

Trial Length:


Trial Deliberations:


Jury Vote:


Post Trial:

The defendant has filed lawsuit in federal court against its insurer, Darwin National Assurance Co., seeking indemnification and damages for a failure to provide a defense in the underlying case. The lawsuit was originally filed in Wake County Superior Court, but has since been removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The defendant anticipates an appeal from the judgment entered against it in the underlying case.

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.