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2 doctors sue Rota Health Center, CHCC for breach of contract

ROTA-BASED doctors Francois Classsens and James Toskas are suing the Rota Health Center and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. in Superior Court for breach of contract.

The doctors said CHCC failed to pay them for administrative leave accruement totaling $635,187.

Classens is demanding payment of $308,000 while Toskas said he is owed $327,187.

Toskas has been with the government’s public health agency since 1997 as a physician on Rota while Claassens, an emergency room doctor, was transferred from the Commonwealth Health Center in 2005 to RHC, where he has been rendering his services.

Attorney Stephen J. Nutting, who represented the two doctors, said in 1997, Dr. Rod Klaassen was serving Rota when Tosakas joined RHC.

When Klaassen left RHC in 2005, he had accumulated approximately six months of administrative leave. Pursuant to an agreement then in place, Klaassen continued to be paid for about six months for the leave he accumulated, Nutting said.

In 1998, the CNMI government and Toskas entered into a contract with specific terms and demands that Toskas outlined in a letter to the RHC resident director on March 11, 1998.

RHC transferred Claassens from Saipan to Rota because of Klaassens’s departure.

Claassens agreed to the transfer to RHC in 2005 but did not receive a new contract until 2006, Nutting said.

According to the lawsuit, as an incentive to encourage Claassens to move to Rota, RHC agreed to provide certain “locum coverage” to Claassens and Toskas which provided for additional pay of $500 per day or administrative leave as had been previously been given to Klaassen and Toskas.

Claassens accumulated 5,264 hours of administrative leave for a period of seven years between June 2005 and December 2012, Nutting said.

On Jan. 15, 2013, he added, RHC resident director Sydie Taisacan met with Toskas and Claassens.

Nutting said Taisacan confirmed that each were owed administrative hours for extra work performed; that Claassens was owed 4,928 hours and Toskas was owed 5,235 hours of administrative leave.

Based on Claassens’ present hourly rate of $62.50 an hour, Nutting said the doctor is owed $308,000 while Toskas at his present hourly rate of $62.50 an hour is owed $327, 187.

After a number of meetings with representatives of CHCC and its attorney, Nutting said it became apparent that CHCC and the government questioned its obligations under the contracts for administrative leave as had been agreed and in place for more than 10 years.

Nutting said Toskas and Claassens had notified the Office of the Attorney General of a possible lawsuit to recover damages for RHC, CHCC because of the government’s anticipated breach of the existing contracts.

Nutting said the AG’s office on Jan. 9, 2017 responded that it would not honor Toskas and Claassens’ contracts and would not consider any claims to compensate them for the work that the doctors had performed above and beyond their normal work schedule as was agreed.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/98678-2-doctors-sue-rota-health-center-chcc-for-breach-of-contract

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