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Ex-Ob-Gyn Chief in Arizona Receives Million-Dollar Settlement in Discrimination Case

Doctor Alleged Harassment for His Public Support of Abortion Training

New York --Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights and law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP announced that they have reached a $1.4 million settlement on behalf of their client Dr. J. Christopher Carey.  As head of the ob-gyn residency program at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, Dr. Carey alleged that he was harassed and ultimately removed from his position in 2004 for publicly supporting abortion training for residents who desired it. Dr. Carey filed suit against a number of Maricopa County entities, the public officials who oversee Maricopa Medical Center and others, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona in August 2005, claiming that his first amendment rights were violated and that he was discriminated against for his moral and religious beliefs supporting abortion rights.

“This is a tremendous result for our client, Dr. Carey.  Personal politics have no place in medical care,” said Janet Crepps, deputy director of the U.S. Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights

Dr. Carey served for a number of years as both Chief of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Director of the Obstetrics & Gynecology Residency Program at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix.  When county officials tried to eliminate the abortion training program in 2003, Dr. Carey expressed his opposition, stating that requirements from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education require that all ob-gyn residency programs make abortion training available to residents who choose to participate.

Dr. Carey continued to protest the actions of the officials when they attempted to transfer the training program to a Catholic institution. Dr. Carey alleged that in response, the Maricopa Board of Supervisors and other officials embarked on an eighteen-month campaign to force him out of his position, spreading false statements to damage his reputation, attempting to block his re-appointment to the Medical Staff,  and conducting multiple investigations that proved to have no basis.  In September 2004, the Board of Supervisors voted to remove Dr. Carey from his position.

“I am extremely pleased with the settlement, but it’s important to remember that the shortage of abortion providers in this country is extensive.  A resident’s ability to obtain abortion training is crucial to ensuring women receive quality healthcare when they need it,” said Dr. Carey.

 “We are very pleased with the result,” said Erin Law, Weil Gotshal’s lead attorney on the case.

The settlement was reached with the following defendants: Maricopa County, Maricopa Integrated Health System, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Maricopa Medical Center, Fulton Brock, Don Stapley, Andrew Kunasek, Max Wilson, and Mary Rose Wilcox.  The case, however, still is scheduled to go to trial on June 23 against two other individual defendants, Marci Moffitt and William Chavira, both of whom worked with Dr. Carey.  

Dr. Carey is represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.

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 The Center for Reproductive Rights is a global legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing women's reproductive health, self-determination, and dignity as basic human rights.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP (www.weil.com), an international law firm of over 1,300 lawyers, including approximately 300 partners, is headquartered in New York, with offices in Austin, Beijing, Boston, Budapest, Dallas, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Houston, London, Miami, Munich, Paris, Prague, Providence, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Warsaw, Washington, D.C. and Wilmington.