The ousted editor of the Maryland State Medical Journal has sued the state's medical society, claiming that the society's directors fired him for refusing to censor articles.
In a suit filed in Baltimore, the former editor, Blaine B. Taylor, charges that the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland--the doctor's equivalent of a bar association--tried "to censor, delete, distort and otherwise withhold information" considered critical of the society or physicians.
Taylor is seeking $2 million in damages.
According to the court papers, Taylor alleges that he was fired in December because the faculty's executive director and its president wanted to "ingratiate themselves with special interests" and "to further their political ties."
The medical society's executive director, John Sargeant, refused to comment on the suit.
The Med-Chi president, Dr. Albert M. Antlitz, said he had just received a copy of the court papers today and had not had time to read them or to discuss the matter with attorneys. "Obviously, I would consider it the charges not true," he said. "The newspaper is not the place to try it."
The Medical and Chirurgical Faculty, created by General Assembly charter almost 200 years ago, controls the licensing of Maryland's doctors and the policing of the profession through appointments to government boards--a dual responsibility that recently has come under fire for creating potential for bias.
The journal is the official publication of the faculty. Taylor was hired as its managing editor in September of 1974, according to the suit, and he "attempted to edit a journal that was accurate, informative, and free of political and/or personal distortion."
Taylor alleges that his superiors killed an article written by a Maryland physician, Steven A. Levenson, that severely criticized the University of Maryland Medical School. The author wrote that the medical school "defies the most fundamental principles of the profession in its treatment of students and house staff" and practices "unsavory internal politics."
Accompanying the court papers is a copy of a memo from Sargeant, the faculty's director, to Taylor regarding the medical school article. The scribbled note says, "Blaine, this is not to be published . . ."
Taylor charges the society unsuccessfully tried to kill a story critical of the state's medical malpractice insurer, the Medical Mutual Liability Insurance Co. of Maryland, which is affiliated with the faculty.
The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in July 1981 that employes could sue their bosses for firing them when the discharge contradicts "some clear mandate of public policy," said Taylor's lawyer, Marvin Ellin.
"The violation of public policy is a reporter, a writer, an editor, attempting to do his job," Ellin said. "He was fired because he was making a few people who held positions of power unhappy."