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The DuPage Medical Group Case Study: Sexual Abuse in Private Equity-Owned Practices

July 25, 2023  ·  By HM&M

Private equity firms are acquiring medical practices across the country as a means of turning a profit, but it’s often at the expense of patient wellbeing.

Private equity firms, which invest in privately held businesses either by buying them outright or through buying a number of shares in the business, seek to make a quick profit. To that end, they often cut operating expenses through any means necessary to limit costs, then re-sell the business at a higher price.

And today, 70% of physicians are employed by private equity firms, health insurers, or hospital systems.

These circumstances can be incredibly dangerous for patients. That’s exactly what happened to the patients of OB/GYN Vernon Cannon, who was employed by DuPage Medical Group (now Duly Health & Care) when he allegedly sexually abused dozens of patients.

The Case Against Vernon Cannon and DuPage Medical Group

DuPage Medical Group has been accused of negligence in its disregard for patient safety amid sexual abuse, sexual assault, and medical battery accusations against obstetrician-gynecologist Vernon Cannon.

On April 30, 2021, Hurley McKenna & Mertz filed a lawsuit on behalf of an adult female patient known to the court as Jane Doe. Jane Doe alleges Cannon began unconsented and unwelcomed physical and sexual contact during a colposcopy appointment at a DuPage Medical Group facility.

Shortly thereafter, Hurley McKenna & Mertz filed five additional lawsuits:

Stortz v. Cannon and DuPage Medical Group

O’Leary v. Cannon and DuPage Medical Group

McKay v. Cannon and DuPage Medical Group

Bretana v. Cannon and DuPage Medical Group

Jane Doe v. Cannon and DuPage Medical Group

And on July 19, 44 more suits were filed against Cannon and DuPage Medical Group for accusations including sexual abuse, medical battery, and negligence.

Similarities between the cases include that Cannon “was under the influence of alcohol,” “slurring his words,” and had a “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath.” Another patient commented that Cannon slurred his words and lacked alertness. Along with alleged intoxicated examinations, the filings also detail an inappropriate sexual relationship with a patient outside of examinations and bizarre behavior after a patient’s stillbirth.
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DuPage Medical Group’s Negligence, Explained

The lawsuits allege that DuPage Medical Group negligently retained Cannon as an employee, even though the group knew or should have known that he examined patients while under the influence of alcohol. DuPage Medical Group failed to adequately supervise Cannon during his interactions with female patients despite these reports.

Patient surveys submitted directly to DuPage Medical Group detail the many inappropriate and illegal actions.

In spite of these patient reports, “we believe the evidence shows that DuPage Medical Group did nothing—and allowed Cannon to continue to practice medicine at their facilities,” says Evan Smola, Partner at Hurley McKenna & Mertz.

In fact, in the time period following two of these patient reports, DuPage disciplined Cannon—not for his inappropriate behavior and subsequent complaints from patients, but for not generating enough revenue for the practice group.

Under the operation of a private equity group who cared more about profits than people, DuPage Medical Group allowed dozens of people to be horrifically abused by a doctor. This is the danger in private equity groups taking ownership over medical practices.

Contact Us If You Were Abused by a Doctor at a Private Equity-Owned Medical Practice

If you were abused by Vernon Cannon or any other doctor in a private equity-owned medical practice, we’re here to fight for you. We understand that what you underwent was traumatic and painful. As experts in sexual abuse litigation, we handle every situation with compassion and understanding.

Reach out to us today for a confidential consultation to understand your options.

And if you’d like more resources about sexual abuse in private equity-owned medical practices, reach out to us here.

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