Tacoma doctor settles wrongful-firing case for $2.5 million

A Tacoma doctor has settled his lawsuit against Catholic Health Initiatives, which operates CHI Franciscan Health and Franciscan Medical Group, for $2.5 million.

Dr. Ramon Añel, a kidney specialist, sued Catholic Health Initiatives in King County Superior Court in 2014.

Añel, who joined CHI Franciscan Health in 2008, contended he was wrongfully fired and later defamed by Catholic Health Initiative employees.

He said the actions came after he raised concerns about what he believed to be lack of oversight at CHI Franciscan dialysis services and a dispute over financial arrangements for physicians.

The case was headed to trial after several positive rulings in Añel’s favor when the medical conglomerate decided to settle, said Añel’s attorney, Scott Blankenship of Seattle.

“I am very grateful that my lawyers and the civil justice system allowed me to clear my name,” Añel said Friday in a news release issued by his attorney’s office. “I am especially grateful to my colleagues and patients who came forward to speak the truth. Their courage made it possible for what CHI has done in darkness to come to light.”

Scott Thompson is spokesman for CHI Franciscan Health.

“We respect the confidence of our relationships with our employees and physicians, but we are satisfied with the way this matter and our relationship with Dr. Añel has concluded,” Thompson said in an email Friday.

Catholic Health Initiative lawyers had argued in court documents that Añel was fired for “his ongoing inability to submit proper, timely and verifiable time sheets, which raised compliance concerns.”

They said his defamation claims were baseless because negative statements made about him, if any, were among Catholic Health Initiative employees and not disseminated to third parties.

Añel continues to practice at Key Nephrology in the South Sound.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644, @TNTAdam