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Former MetroHealth CEO files second lawsuit alleging breach of contract, wrongful termination

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Posted at 12:10 PM, Dec 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-16 12:15:25-05

CLEVELAND — Dr. Akram Boutros, the former CEO of MetroHealth who was terminated last month for allegedly paying himself nearly $2 million in bonuses, has filed a second lawsuit against the health system, alleging breach of contract, defamation, wrongful termination and civil liability for criminal acts related to retaliation and intimidation.

The lawsuit shows that MetroHealth’s incentive program, as administered by the president and CEO, was approved by the MetroHealth board.

The lawsuit also provides an alleged timeline of events: that Boutros informed the board chair and search committee chair that the search process for the incoming CEO was illegal, the subsequent conversations about Boutros’s compensation and the “unauthorized and illegal investigation” by an attorney, which Boutros’s attorneys say resulted in breaches of contract and the unlawful termination of Boutros.

“In firing Dr. Boutros, the MetroHealth Board of Trustees acted in bad faith. They relied on an incomplete, unauthorized investigation and made decisions in secret, violating the public’s trust,” said Jason Bristol, an attorney at Cohen, Rosenthal & Kramer LLP representing Dr. Boutros. “The Board’s own bylaws, resolutions, and meeting minutes demonstrate that Dr. Boutros acted in accordance with the authority granted to him by the Board. The Board’s assertions to the contrary are knowingly false and are designed to destroy Dr. Boutros’ reputation while protecting their own.”

Read the complete lawsuit here.

On Thursday, the MetroHealth Board of Trustees provided this response to the second lawsuit:

Dr. Boutros’s latest lawsuit is another attempt to rewrite history.

Once again, let’s be clear: Dr. Boutros was terminated because we learned he was paying himself almost $2 million in bonuses that had not been authorized by the MetroHealth Board. It’s that simple. To claim otherwise is to continue to smear the reputation of the very institution he claims to love and to undermine his successor.

We are moving on with a new CEO who is committed to making the communities and the patients we serve healthier. This lawsuit is just another distraction, and we look forward to getting back to our mission and focus on the community.

Boutros’s legal team has also filed an amended version of its first lawsuit, dropping as a defendant a board member who resigned in Boutros’s support.

Terry Monnolly resigned from the MetroHealth Board on Nov. 30 and signaled his support of Boutros in his resignation letter, according to a statement from Cohen Rosenthal and Kramer, the law firm representing Boutros in his lawsuit filed in response to actions his attorneys call "wildly reckless, illegal, and damaging" to his reputation.

The amended lawsuit also claims that the board deliberated and voted on Boutros’s termination entirely in executive session in violation of the law, providing as evidence a text message from the board chair to Monnolly stating the board voted to terminate Boutros, before the board meeting minutes, which show the vote happened in open session.

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