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Cardiologist's defamation suit dismissed

A Baltimore County Circuit Court judge dismissed Monday a defamation lawsuit filed by Dr. Mark Midei against St. Joseph Medical Center, barring the embattled cardiologist from seeking damages against his former hospital in the scandal over unnecessary heart stent procedures he's been accused of performing.

The opinion by Judge Mickey Norman was not available, but electronic court records show that Midei's case was dismissed.

Lawyers for Midei, St. Joseph and its corporate parent, Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives, all declined to comment until they had read the ruling.

In a March hearing, Midei's lawyers had portrayed him as a scapegoat for the hospital's own turmoil and argued that the case should be allowed to go to trial. But St. Joseph's lawyers contended that the suit was invalid because Midei had signed a release absolving the hospital of responsibility when he resigned from his post in November 2009.

Midei was placed on leave in May 2009 as accusations of unnecessary procedures surfaced. He was formally suspended that July. The Towson hospital warned 600 patients by letter that their stents might have been unneeded, and more than 200 have since filed lawsuits against Midei. Midei claimed that the publicity has made it impossible for him to get a new job. He was seeking $60 million for each of four counts in the suit.

In a separate case, Midei is awaiting a ruling on a petition seeking reinstatement of his medical license in Maryland.

St. Joseph, its patient admissions and revenue down since the scandal, is to be acquired by the University of Maryland Medical System under an agreement announced last month with Catholic Health Initiatives. The ownership shift has not been finalized.