Restrictive Clauses and Medical Practice Group Disputes

Restrictive covenants are far from new. Recently, they’ve increased in number and importance in an increasingly competitive and litigious medical practice environment. At LA, we’re on the front lines of what’s happening and how courts are ruling. It’s our experience that there does not seem to be definitive and consistent court rulings as to whether signed covenants in a medical practice are enforceable. One thing is consistent, however, the importance in a dispute over covenants of having the very best litigation firm on your side, whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. It’s vitally important to have a firm like LA in your corner with deep understanding of the law and the commitment to represent you with fairness and fierceness if a court appearance becomes necessary.

Non-Compete Agreements Examined More Closely

In deciding whether a non-solicitation covenant has been broken and whether it’s enforceable, courts usually consider the following factors:

  1. Where the solicited business is located and the proximity to the business issuing the complaint.
  2. The exact nature of the business being solicited and whether there’s a legitimate claim of competitiveness.
  3. The length of time the restricted covenant covers and whether that is reasonable.
More Info Regarding Non-Solicitation Agreements

An important lesson we’ve learned at Lubin Austermuehle is that you can push back against some restrictive covenants. In fact, the AMA does not look favorably on non-compete and non-solicitation agreements as stated in the AMA Code of Ethics Opinion 9.02:

“The Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs discourages any agreement which restricts the right of a physician to practice medicine for a specified period of time or in a specified area upon termination of an employment, partnership, or corporate agreement. Restrictive covenants are unethical if they are excessive in geographic scope or duration in the circumstances presented, or if they fail to make reasonable accommodation of patients’ choice of physician.”

According to the AMA, a physician who leaves a group should notify his or her patients as soon as possible after her or his departure. Through their eyes, this is not solicitation at all and merely a good practice to follow for the health and safety of patients.

One thing is clear, not everything is clear with regard to restrictive covenants so it is very important to consult with an informed attorney when you’re signing a physician group practice agreement and if you’ve been accused of breaking a covenant. Conversely, if you’re a medical practice that feels you’ve been betrayed by a previous partner, we’re happy to discuss the situation with you. In all potentially risky situations, talk to us. Lubin and Austermuehle offers a FREE consultation where we can talk about your circumstances and you can get a sense of our ability, skills and depth of commitment to your cause. Contact us now.

Client Reviews
"I was referred to Peter Lubin from someone in the car business to handle a law suit. From the moment I made the appointment Peter and his staff were outstanding. This wasn't an easy case, most lawyers had turned me down. However, Peter took the time to meet with me and review everything. He took on the case, and constantly communicated with me about updates and case information. We beat this non-compete agreement case in record time. I would use him again and recommend him to my closest family and friends. 5 stars is not enough to thank him for his service." Sebastian R.
"I worked on two occasions with Peter Lubin and his staff. They took their time with me and discussed each and every item in detail. The group makes you feel like you are part of the family and not just another hourly charge. I recommend Peter to anyone who asks me for a referral. If you are looking for a top notch attorney at a reasonable rate, look no further than Lubin Austermuehle." Kurt A.
"Excellent law firm. My case was a complicated arbitration dispute from another state. Was handled with utmost professionalism and decency. Mr. Peter Lubin was able to successfully resolve the case on my behalf and got me a very favorable settlement. Would recommend to anyone looking for a serious law firm. Great staff and great lawyers!" Albey L.
"I have known Peter Lubin for over 30 years. He has represented me on occasion with sound legal advice. He is a shrewd and tough negotiator leading to positive outcomes and averting prolonged legal hassles in court. He comes from a family with a legal pedigree and deep roots in Chicago's top legal community. You want him on your case. You need him on your opponents case. He won't stop fighting until he wins." Christopher G.
"Peter and his team helped us with an auto fraud case. They communicated well (timely and very responsive), investigated deeply, and negotiated a very good settlement. We were able to resolve our significant issue without a large burden and in a manner that allowed for us to come out ahead. I'd recommend Peter and his team strongly!" R.J. Callahan
"Peter was really nice and helpful when I came to him with an initial question about a non-compete. Would definitely reach out again, recommended to everyone." Johannes B.