Doctor sues Sanford Health claiming provider signed his name to letter sent to patients

According to the lawsuit, the letter was a misrepresentation in that it purports to have been sent or authorized by the doctor, "neither of which is true."


FARGO — An orthopedic surgeon has filed a federal lawsuit against Sanford Health claiming the healthcare provider tried to keep the surgeon's patients from leaving the provider by signing the surgeon's name to letters sent to patients.

In the suit, Matthew Friederichs states he went to work for MeritCare, which later became Sanford Health, in 2003.

The suit also claims that Friederichs provided 90 days' notice to Sanford Health in late November and that soon after Sanford Health "unilaterally decided that plaintiff would not be allowed to see any new patients" for about 83 of the 90 days in the notice period.

Sanford Health also decided Friederichs could not perform surgeries on existing patients after Feb. 10, 2022, according to the suit, which asserts that the unilateral decisions caused harm to Friederichs' income, as well as his reputation with patients.

The lawsuit states that in early January Sanford Health sent a letter to patients that appeared to be written and signed by Friederichs that informed patients of the fact he was leaving Sanford Health. It explained how patients could reschedule any pending appointments with a different surgeon at Sanford Health.


According to the lawsuit, the letter was a misrepresentation in that it purports to have been sent or authorized by Friederichs, "neither of which is true."

The lawsuit also maintains that based on how the letter was written, it appeared Sanford Health sent the letter in order to transfer patients to other surgeons so they would not reschedule with Friederichs at his new clinic.

Among other things, the suit alleges the letter was a violation of the Unlawful Sales or Advertising Practices Act. It also alleges the letter violated Friederichs' privacy and right of publicity.

The suit seeks damages in excess of $75,000 as well as treble damages, which could allow a judge to award Friederichs with up to triple the amount sought.

It also seeks an order compelling Sanford Health to disclose the names of patients who received the letter.

Dr. James Volk, Sanford Health clinic vice president, said Sanford Health is aware of the lawsuit and will be filing a response soon. He said he could not comment further on the matter.

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