An “acrimonious” battle between two well-known, local obstetricians/gynecologists who once practiced together and now practice across the street from one another has been settled by the Fifth District Appellate Court.
Christina Midkiff, M.D. came out on top in a non-compete lawsuit filed against her by former partner Tina Gingrich, M.D.
Justices James Wexstten, Stephen Spomer and Bruce Stewart upheld summary judgment for Midkiff that Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge entered in July 2012.
The first sentence of Mudge’s July 6, 2012 order stated: “The acrimonious history between the two parties brings us to defendant’s motion for summary judgment.”
Mudge found that Gingrich exercised her right to purchase all of Midkiff’s shares in Gingrich PC, the corporation that formed their bond more than a decade ago, forcing Midkiff to sell her shares for their fair value. Consequently, Mudge held that “according to the plain language of the agreement, the non-compete clause…does not apply here.”
At oral arguments on Dec. 17, attorney Erin Phillips of Unsell & Schattnik in Wood River argued for Gingrich, saying Mudge erred in granting summary judgment because the law-of-the-case doctrine barred Midkiff’s contract construction arguments and because the non-compete provision in the parties’ agreement should not have been construed in Midkiff’s favor as a matter of law.
The appellate court disagreed.
Wexstten wrote the Rule 23, non-precedential decision.
“The trial court properly entered summary judgment in the defendant's favor because the law-of-the-case doctrine did not preclude the defendant's contract construction arguments and because the plain language of the contract rendered the noncompetition clause in the contract inapplicable to the defendant,” according to Wexstten.
Among other things, Gingrich’s suit filed in 2007 sought to keep Midkiff from setting up practice within 20 miles.
The decision handed down by the Fifth District on Jan. 28 essentially allows Midkiff to maintain her practice at 2023 Vadalabene Dr. in Maryville, directly across from Gingrich’s practice, Maryville Women’s Center, at 2016 Vadalabene Dr. The offices are close to Anderson Hospital, renowned for its “Pavilion for Women: Southern Illinois’ Premiere Birthing Center.”
The 2007 lawsuit was preceded by litigation between the former partners filed in 2002 involving their business dissolution. It was settled in 2010.
Edwardsville attorney Mark Goldenberg represented Midkiff at oral arguments.