Judge dismisses state, HHS from Lincoln Regional Center psychiatrist’s lawsuit
A psychiatrist who was terminated in November from his job at the Lincoln Regional Center has lost his lawsuit against the state and the Department of Health and Human Services for alleged violations of regulations, policies and laws in diagnosing and treating mentally ill patients.
Dr. Farid Karimi’s claims against the state of Nebraska and the DHHS, a state agency, are barred by sovereign immunity, according to an order in the case last week.
While the order largely gutted Karimi’s lawsuit, it remains open against Dr. Roger Donovick in his official and individual capacities, and Mark LaBouchardiere and Sheri Dawson, both individually.
Donovick was the Regional Center’s chief medical officer until August 2017; LaBouchardiere is the current facilities director and has been in charge of the Regional Center for nearly a year; and Dawson was Karimi’s former supervisor.
In an order Thursday, Senior U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp said Karimi went to work at the Regional Center in February 2016 and, after several months, noted what he considered procedural and medical irregularities there and reported them.
Karimi, who ultimately was terminated Nov. 16, 2018, alleged he was admonished and punished when he attempted to bring the center into compliance with federal regulations and requirements under the Rehabilitation Act.
Smith Camp said while the alleged deficiencies may have violated the patients’ constitutional rights, they did not violate Karimi’s constitutional rights, which would have been necessary for his case to go forward.
“Karimi’s factual allegations amount only to general complaints about the quality of care received by patients at LRC and general mismanagement of the facility,” she wrote in a 23-page order.
And, Smith Camp said, while the patients were disabled and received improper care, Karimi didn’t allege they were treated improperly on account of their disabilities, so his claim for retaliation also failed.
She said Karimi also failed to demonstrate that he suffered any actionable damage to his reputation or was deprived of a property interest, such as his ability to practice medicine.
Lincoln Regional Center through the years