The chief of the Maryland Shock Trauma Center ordered three doctors out of the building yesterday, shortly after negotiations broke down between the state and the physicians over their dismissal two weeks ago.
Dr. Ameen I. Ramzy, a surgeon and the former chief of the state emergency medical system, said he was sitting in his office about 4:30 p.m. when maintenance workers came and began changing the lock on his office door. "We've been told to get our possessions out right away," said Dr. Ramzy, reached by phone at his desk.
The abrupt action, Dr. Ramzy said, left him "even more bewildered than I was before." Dr. Howard Belzberg, a clinical-care specialist, and Dr. C. Michael Dunham, another surgeon, were ejected in a similar manner, co-workers said.
Dr. Kimball I. Maull, who became director of the center in February, ordered the physicians out yesterday shortly after they rejected a financial package that the state offered to persuade them to drop a lawsuit they filed to block their dismissals.
"Apparently, their insistence on reinstatement is the point it broke down on," said William Howard of the Maryland attorney general's office, who represents Dr. Maull and the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.
Mr. Howard declined to disclose how much money the fired doctors were offered.
Edward J. Gutman, an attorney for the doctors, said he would ask Baltimore Circuit Judge Hilary D. Caplan today to schedule a hearing Friday. He declined to discuss details of the physicians' negotiations with the state, except to say that a "wide range of possibilities" were discussed.
Judge Caplan postponed a hearing last week after both sides said they were trying to reach a settlement in the case, and both sides now say they expect the judge to schedule a new hearing.
Lawyers for the doctors will argue that the dismissal violated their contract and that they were denied their due process rights under the constitution.
"Our position has been and is that they were unlawfully terminated," Mr. Gutman said. "I'm disappointed that it didn't end up with a settlement."
Dr. Maull told the three doctors they had 72 hours to leave on July 28, later explaining at a news conference that the physicians had opposed efforts to improve the state's emergency medical care. The physicians responded with a lawsuit and won a court order temporarily blocking the move. That order expired midnight last Friday, while both sides were still negotiating.