Former Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center resident Jeffrey Isaacs '99 has filed a lawsuit against the College and the Board of Trustees for alleged coercion, stress and abuse that left him in a state of mental shock and resulted in wrongful termination. The District Court of New Hampshire at Concord is set to hear the suit this month.
Isaacs' complaint, originally filed last February, documents alleged abuse from Isaacs' employers at DHMC from June 2011 to January 2012.
Isaacs began his residency at DHMC shortly after completing his medical degree, and the mistreatment began almost immediately, according to Isaacs. In his first week, Isaacs claims he was asked to work 18-hour shifts, accumulating nearly 90 hours a week and exceeding federal regulations, according to court documents.
Abuse continued for the next six months, Isaacs said in an interview.
"There are different levels of hell and from what I can ascertain, other medical students did not have to go through what I went through," Isaacs said.
In the original complaint, Isaacs further alleged that he suffered undue criticism from program directors and attending doctors, which caused him excessive stress and further compounded his well-documented neuropsychiatric disorder. His disorder stems from a 1997 injury, he said.
Isaacs said that by November 2011, stress had begun to affect his performance and mental health.
He requested permission for medical leave on several occasions but said he was denied.
"It's unclear to me how 20 Harvard and Dartmouth-trained supervisors were oblivious to the fact and attacked me," Issacs said.
In January 2012, tensions between Isaacs and his supervisors reached a breaking point, Isaacs said.
Two supervisors accused him of application fraud and asked him to resign to avoid further consequences, according to court records.
Isaacs alleges that this accusation was inaccurate and constitutes blackmail.
Following the meeting, Isaacs was immediately hospitalized for mental shock, according to court documents.
Issacs is suing on the grounds of fraud, negligence and breach of contract, as well as for suffering undue emotional distress and being denied medical leave.
He is also suing for upwards of $529,000 in compensation for damage to his career and health, according to court documents.
"You do eight years of graduate work just to get totally derailed," Isaacs said. "It gives a sourness or bitterness to everything."
Issacs' lawyer, John Skinner, said that he was hopeful for the prospects of the case. He declined to comment further.
Justin Anderson, director of media relations for the College, said in a statement that the College has filed a motion to dismiss the suit, asserting that Dartmouth and the individual defendants were not responsible for the events that constitute the basis of the suit. The College is currently waiting for the Court's ruling on the motion, according to Anderson.
This suit coincides with another ongoing lawsuit against DHMC, in which Jennifer Connors, a former resident in the psychiatric department, is suing on the grounds that she was discriminated against because of her documented attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to court documents.
Connors' original complaint detailed similar incidents to the Isaac case, including undue scrutiny due to her condition, which resulted in what she alleges to be her wrongful termination.
Edward Kaplan, who is representing DHMC in the Isaacs suit, declined to comment because the matter is still in open litigation. Psychiatry department chair Alan Green and the Office of General Counsel at the College declined to comment.