Suspended Arnold gynecologist faces lawsuit from former patient Woman alleges he seduced, harassed her after stillbirth in 1995

July 17, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

An Arnold gynecologist the state barred from practicing last June for having sexual relations with a patient now faces a lawsuit from the same woman, who alleges that he seduced her under the guise of helping her get over the trauma of a stillbirth.

The 32-year-old woman, who sued in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court this week using a fictitious name, accuses the doctor of harassing her with phone calls after he delivered her stillborn child at Anne Arundel Medical Center June 25, 1995, and enticing her to have sex with him near her baby's grave in February 1996. The woman, who lived in Annapolis at the time, and her ex-husband are seeking $40 million in damages.

Dr. David Lee Joyce, 44, of the 1200 block of Cavalier Road in Arnold, worked at Annapolis OB/GYN Associates, a prominent private practice where another gynecologist was similarly suspended in 1992 for having sex with five patients.

Joyce did not return phone calls and could not be reached. The woman, who now lives in Charleston, S.C., and her ex-husband, a 31-year-old Annapolis engineer, declined to comment.

"This is total violation of a patient's trust," said her lawyer Marvin Ellin. Joyce "took advantage of an emotionally distraught, grief-stricken woman."

The Maryland Board of Physician Quality Assurance took emergency action to suspend Joyce's license June 22 last year after it received and investigated the woman's complaint, said Charles Cichon, the board's chief compliance analyst.

Cichon said immediate suspensions are very rare and the board issues summary suspensions only once or twice a year.

"In my experience, I don't recall two physicians being sanctioned for that type of conduct out of the same practice," Cichon said. "It doesn't make any difference whether it's a consensual relationship. It's still a violation as long as the person's a patient of the physician."

Susan Latonick, an administrator at Annapolis OB/GYN, at 2003 Medical Parkway, declined to comment on Joyce's suspension.

'Emotional Shock'

According to the lawsuit, the woman, in a state of "emotional shock" after the childbirth, received "numerous telephone calls" from Joyce offering her moral and emotional support and telling her "how brave, how pretty and how feminine she was."

On Feb. 21, 1996, Joyce drove the woman to her child's grave and seduced her when she began to cry, the suit alleges.

"As he described it to her, it would be ventilating of her grief by actually going to the grave with him, since he was involved in the delivery of the baby and could best appreciate the trauma she was going through," Ellin said. "It would be a form of therapy for the two of them."

The suit said the pair continued the relationship over six other meetings.

"Then the reality and the ugliness of this began to envelop her," Ellin said. He said she broke off the relationship with the doctor, sought psychiatric treatment and then divorced her husband about six months ago.

A 'competent physician'

Cichon said the emergency suspension was enforced because Joyce was calling the patient to dissuade her from testifying against him after she filed her complaint Oct. 25, 1996. Joyce was formally suspended for two years beginning Dec. 17 last year, Cichon said.

Latonick said Joyce had been with the Annapolis practice from 1993 to 1997 and had had his own practice in Texas before that.

"Technically, he was a very competent physician," Latonick said.

She said Joyce did not know Dr. Jeffrey Briggs, the gynecologist from that practice who was suspended in 1992. After the suspension, Briggs continued practicing in Carthage, N.Y.

Pub Date: 7/17/98

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