February 20, 2020
PARK RIDGE DOCTOR AWARDED $248,000 FOR BEING
DEFAMED BY FORMER BUSINESS PARTNERS— COMMITS AWARD TO EXPAND FREE PATIENT ADDICTION TREATMENT
On February 19, 2020, a Cook County jury awarded a Park Ridge doctor, Kenji Oyasu M.D., $248,000 in damages, including damages to Dr. Oyasu’s reputation and for punitive damages, against Oyasu’s former business partners for making false statements about Oyasu after Dr. Oyasu’s departure from a medical clinic they opened to treat opiate addicted patients. Dr. Oyasu testified at the trial that he intends to use a portion of the award to expand a scholarship fund he currently maintains to treat financially challenged opiate addicted patients.
Oyasu claimed that after his departure from Brightside Clinic, a Northbrook out-patient opiate addiction medical clinic that he helped found, his former business partners, John Benedetto and Phillip Atteberry, both of Winnetka, told multiple patients at Brightside and others in December of 2016 and later, that Dr.Oyasu had lost his medical license, was no longer practicing medicine and was incompetent to treat patients. Witnesses testified that Benedetto and Atteberry called at least one local pharmacy, Mariano’s, and told the pharmacy that Dr. Oyasu could no longer prescribe medications.
Dr. Oyasu, the medical staff President and head of emergency medicine at Vista Hospital in Waukegan, brought the case in early 2018 after it was reported to him by at least 8 of his patients that Benedetto and Atteberry had told them Dr. Oyasu could no longer treat them because his medical license had been revoked, he could no longer prescribe medication and that he was no longer practicing medicine. Former patients testified that at visits to Brightside, after requesting to see Dr. Oyasu, Benedetto and Atteberry intentionally lied and misled them. Dr. Oyasu’s suit claimed his reputation and standing as a physician was damaged as a result of the false statements.
Benedetto, a former dentist, and Atteberry, a claimed entrepreneur, denied making any of the false statements and claimed Dr. Oyasu was attempting to seek revenge against them. Dr. Oyasu testified at trial that he resigned from Brightside in December of 2016 after he became uncomfortable with the culture created by Atteberry and Benedetto, which he believed put his medical licensure at risk. Atteberry and Benedetto claimed that Dr. Oyasu was attempting to damage the Brightside business by leaving and testified that Dr. Oyasu attempted to solicit patients to join him at a new clinic that he opened, ModernMed Recovery. ModernMed currently has clinics in Park Ridge and Lindenhurst.
Oyasu’s attorneys, Daniel K. Touhy and Jessica E. Oefelein, called 8 of Dr. Oyasu’s patients to testify about the false statements made to them by Atteberry and Benedetto. All requested to continue their treatment with Dr. Oyasu after he left Brightside.
Benedetto and Atteberry also brought a countersuit against Oyasu for retaliation, invasion of privacy and HIPPA violations allegedly committed by Dr. Oyasu as an emergency room doctor. The Court dismissed the retaliation counterclaim on a pre-trial motion and the remaining countersuit was rejected by the jury in its verdict late Wednesday night.
Currently, Dr. Oyasu treats 10 patients per month suffering from opiate addiction without charge at ModernMed. His goal is to continue to expand the scholarship program to provide free treatment to more opiate addicted patients going forward.
Daniel Touhy 312-804-2195
Jessica Oefelein 847-722-9266
KENJI OYASU, M.D., an individual, Plaintiff, v.
PHILIP ATTEBERRY., an individual,
JOHN BENEDETTO, an individual,
PBJ CAPITAL PARTNERS, LLC,
DAVID KUSHNER, M.D., P.C. d/b/a
BRIGHTSIDE CLINICS, Defendants.
Pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Law Division Case No. 18-L-43