For Dr. Dilip Mehta, being vindicated by a jury of sexual harassment allegations was not enough.
The former medical director for radiology at Oak Hill Hospital, who now practices in New Port Richey, filed a civil lawsuit last week in Pasco County seeking monetary damages from his accuser, Karyn Flatau, a former female co-worker, and her husband, Dr. Arthur Flatau.
Karyn Flatau, 52, claimed in a suit filed in December 2003 that Mehta, 53, inappropriately grabbed her chest and kissed her when she took X-rays to his office at the hospital. A jury acquitted him Nov. 26 after a three-day trial in Hernando County.
The he-said, she-said saga continues while Karyn Flatau appeals the verdict and this new lawsuit amplifies the heated dispute.
Mehta's four-count lawsuit asks for a jury to grant him and his business, Excel Medical Imaging, damages in excess of $15,000 for malicious prosecution, tortious interference, defamation and injurious falsehood.
"He wants vindication of his name and reputation," said his attorney, Shirin Vesely of St. Petersburg.
The latter two charges stem from an article that appeared in the Hernando and Pasco editions of the St. Petersburg Times about Mehta's acquittal.
The article quoted Karyn Flatau's reaction to the ruling when she said, "I feel that I didn't lose. The next little girl that crosses his path is going to lose." Her statement refers to her disappointment that the judge did not allow three former hospital staffers and a court reporter testify about how Mehta also inappropriately touched them.
"The statement clearly implies that Dr. Mehta had a previous history of sexually battering little girls. The statement charges Dr. Mehta with a sexual crime," the lawsuit reads. "The statement was made for the purpose of destroying Dr. Mehta and Excel."
Mehta said the statement "directly and immediately" caused him to lose business, according to the lawsuit, because patients canceled appointments.
Karyn Flatau said the lawsuit came as a surprise to her.
"That came out of nowhere," she said. "To me, I thought Dr. Mehta would be happy with the verdict he got. It just goes to show you why these girls don't come forward."
Much of the court filing focuses on Mehta's argument that Karyn Flatau and her husband, Arthur Flatau, were behind Oak Hill Hospital's decision not to renew his firm's exclusive radiology contract.
The lawsuit states that Arthur Flatau, a vascular surgeon whose office at the hospital is run by his wife, tried to drive out Mehta because of a dispute about a new angiography unit.
Mehta objected to the unit as he felt it would impede on his firm's contract. The Flataus were strong proponents, however.
The Flataus' filed the sexual harassment lawsuit and made false statements to hospital administrators to get Mehta fired, the lawsuit alleges. It also states that they tried to extort him by promising to keep their 'lips sealed' if he would resign.
Hospital officials, through spokesman Richard Linkel, declined to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit.
"The whole matter is really between the two different physicians," he said. "The hospital wasn't really involved."
John Frank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6114.