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Doctor Sues Ex-Partners After Pot Bust

NASHVILLE (CN) - A forensic specialist who worked as Nashville's medical examiner and claims he created "one of the most progressive death investigation systems in the country" says he lost more than he deserves to when he was caught with marijuana in a Mississippi hotel room. The doctor says he used marijuana to sleep because of the stresses of his job.

Dr. Bruce Levy claims that the company he built from scratch, Forensic Medical Management, booted him out without notice or payment and refused to pay him his share of profits for this year, during which he performed numerous autopsies.

Levy sued Forensic Medical Management (FMMS) and Dr. Ben W. Davis in Davidson County Chancery Court. Davis is president of Associated Pathologists PLC, which owns majority interest in FMMS and holds a majority of seats on its board.

But "the growth and success of FMMS was a direct result of Dr. Levy's vision and hard work," Levy says in his complaint.

"Over the course of thirteen years, from 1997 to 2010, Dr. Levy built the business of FMMS from a relatively small start-up operation employing a total of three physicians, including Dr. Levy, to a successful multi-state forensic medicine practice employing twelve physicians and over 60 employees," the complaint states.

"Dr. Levy was initially recruited to completely reorganize the dysfunctional death investigation system for the city of Nashville. In the course of nine months, in addition to carrying a full load of forensic cases, Dr. Levy completely rewrote the office's policies and procedures, initiated training rotations for pathology residents and medical students, integrated the medical examiner with law enforcement, the criminal justice system, public health and emergency management."

He says his success landed him a job as Nashville's state medical examiner, where he "modernized the investigation of child deaths in Tennessee, which led to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to request that Dr. Levy contribute his Tennessee success to the CDC's Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Initiative."

In March this year, Levy was arrested in a hotel room in Mississippi "after he accepted the delivery of an unopened package containing marijuana by an undercover law enforcement officer. At that time, Dr. Levy also had in his hotel room a sealed small bag of marijuana which came from a location known as the 'Property Room' at the offices of FMMS," the complaint states.

Levy says he had become addicted to marijuana and used it to sleep at night because of the stressed of his job. His work "included regularly performing autopsies on infants and young children, as well as victims of horrific homicides and accidents."

Levy says he underwent rehab and resigned from FMMS. He adds: "Criminal charges against Dr. Levy in Mississippi and Tennessee have been resolved by agreement under which Dr. Levy avoided any incarceration and was sentenced to probation for specified periods of time, after which his criminal charges will be dismissed and the records will be expunged if he complies with the conditions of his probation."

Levy says he agreed to resign, give up his company car, computer and other property because Dr. Davis agreed to keep paying him his regular salary, and promised to pay Levy for his 14 percent interest in the company.

But less than two weeks later, Levy says, Davis and other board members voted to terminate Levy's membership interest immediately, without the required notice.

At first, FMMS agreed to pay him the value of his capital account, Levy says, but ultimately decided it owed him nothing at all.

"FMMS has failed and refused to pay Dr. Levy any amount for unpaid employment compensation, his share of the 2010 income of FMMS, or the value of his membership interest in FMMS," the complaint states.

Levy adds, "Their refusal to pay him for the fair value of his membership interest upon his withdrawal from FMMS is nothing more than an unjust and inequitable attempt to exploit the unfortunate circumstances that occurred before Dr. Levy received treatment for his addiction and to reap all the fruits of thirteen years of Dr. Levy's labors for themselves. ...

"Neither Dr. Davis nor any member of Associated Pathologists ever performed a single death investigation or autopsy, wrote an office policy or procedure, taught forensic medicine, marketed the company to governments, responded to requests for proposals, or managed the day-to-day operation of the company or medical examiner's office," Levy claims.

He seeks damaged for breach of contract, promissory estoppel and negligent misrepresentation. He says he is owed $1.6 million for his interest in FMMS, $250,000 in compensation and seeks $3.2 million in damages.

He is represented by Kenneth Jones Jr. with Jones Hawkins & Farmer.

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