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Doctors battle imaging center.

Byline: TIM CHRISTIE The Register-Guard

In 1999, a group of local doctors joined forces with a Virginia company to jointly operate a high-tech medical imaging center in Springfield's Gateway district.

Three years later, the center is still operating, but the business relationship has disintegrated into competing lawsuits that allege bad faith and breach of contract.

The legal dispute focuses on Advanced Imaging Center, a suite of medical imaging offices surrounded by fast-food restaurants, financial institutions and assorted small businesses at 860 Belt Line Road.

The clinic is jointly operated by Radiology Associates, owned by a group of local doctors, and a Virginia company called Medical Imaging Diagnostics Inc., or MIDI. Together, Radiology Associates and MIDI formed a company, Open Advanced MRI of Eugene.

Now each side has filed suit against the other, over questions of who controls the clinic space and who can offer MRI services.

MRI, which stands for magnetic resonance imaging, is a machine used to produce high-quality images of inside the human body that doctors use to diagnose injuries and illnesses.

Radiology Associates sued MIDI in June 2001, complaining that MIDI had tried to stop Radiology Associates from remodeling its part of the clinic to accommodate a new $1.6 million MRI scanner. At issue is who controlled the space and who had a right to deal with the landlord.

Depositions in that case were taking place this week in Eugene and the case is set for trial in June, said Mark Turner, a Portland attorney representing MIDI.

Last week, MIDI filed its own lawsuit against Radiology Associates, its owner physicians - Drs. Lee Michels, Jon Eckstrom, Charles Deaton, Stephen Quinn, Paul Wilson, Gregory Kienzle and Charles McGlade - and Healthventures, an investment arm of PeaceHealth.

The suit seeks $10 million in damages for lost business. MIDI also plans to seek punitive damages, Turner said.

MIDI alleges that Radiology Associates violated the terms of their agreement, which explicitly forbids Radiology Associates from owning or operating an MRI, or magnet, that uses open architecture.

Historically, patients getting an MRI have had to slide into a narrow tunnel to get scanned, sometimes inducing claustrophobia and causing problems for obese patients.

Newer MRIs use an "open architecture" that alleviates those concerns.

"They dispute the contention that the magnet they have placed in the Gateway location is an open architecture magnet," Turner said.

MIDI contends the Radiology Associates' new machine uses new technology intended to compete for the same business as MIDI's open architecture MRI, Turner said.

Burt Loessberg, administrator of Radiology Associates, said the company would have no comment on the suit.

Radiology Associates' attorney, Patrick Neill of Eugene, could not be reached for comment.
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Title Annotation:Courts: The two sides sue each other over who controls the space at a clinic on Belt Line Road in the Gateway area.; Health
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 11, 2002
Words:443
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