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Doctor sues ex-boss for slander

A Hernando County physician has sued a former colleague in circuit court, claiming his onetime employer has defamed him and harmed his career.

The lawyer for Dr. Scott Gebhardt said in court documents that Gebhardt's former boss, Dr. John Batista, began slandering him after Gebhardt left Batista's employ.

"Batista began making derogatory, false and malicious comments to members of the hospital staff where Gebhardt practiced medicine that he was incompetent, conducted rounds after drinking liquor, and other comments designed to embarrass and impugn his professional and personal reputation in the community," lawyer William B. Taylor IV wrote.

As a result of these comments, Taylor contended, Gebhardt lost business and was humiliated professionally.

He asks for an unspecified amount in damages and a trial by jury.

Batista said he was not aware of the lawsuit, which was filed late last week.

"It's probably in retribution to me suing him for breach of contract," he said.

Batista sued Gebhardt in late December, stating Gebhardt owed him money for breaking an employment contract. That case is assigned to Judge Daniel Merritt Sr. for a jury trial.

Batista referred additional questions to his lawyer, who was not available for comment.

Gebhardt and his lawyer could not be reached for comment.

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