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Orthopedists file suit against USF

Former orthopedics professors at the University of South Florida (USF)filed a lawsuit Friday charging that the university defrauded them by

violating an agreement with their private medical clinic.

The lawsuit, which asks for more than $5-million in damages, is the latest legal maneuver in the long-running battle between the orthopedists and USF. It alleges that USF violated an affiliation agreement with their clinic, the Florida Orthopedic Institute, signed last April.

The institute was formed after USF backed out of a plan to build its own orthopedics institute. Its investors include Dr. Phillip Spiegel, an orthopedics chairman whom the administration has been trying to demote since October 1988.

The lawsuit charges that USF disregarded university procedures in its search for a new orthopedics chairman, refused to let Spiegel direct the residency program and denied promotion or tenure to six faculty members, all in violation of the "spirit and letter" of the affiliation agreement.

USF lawyer Bryan Burgess said he had not seen the lawsuit, but said "it is not unexpected, and we'll vigorously defend it."