Oral Agreement Leads to Frayed Nerves Between Doctors

Oral Agreement Leads to Frayed Nerves Between Doctors

One Little Rock interventional neuroradiologist has accused his friend and fellow physician of shortchanging him hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical services provided.

Dr. Eren Erdem now is suing his former buddy, Little Rock neurosurgeon Scott M. Schlesinger, in Pulaski County Circuit Court in hopes of collecting the money he says he is owed.

The roots of the case can be traced to July 2008, when Schlesinger asked Erdem to help him with spinal injections and other procedures at the Legacy Neurosurgery Clinic and Arkansas Neurosurgery Clinic. Schlesinger owns or has a majority interest in both clinics, according to Erdem’s lawsuit.

As compensation, Schlesinger agreed to pay Erdem from the patients’ revenue, minus a “small amount for overhead,” according to the complaint. But, since the two had been “close friends” since 2001, they didn’t put the agreement down on paper.

Over the next five years, Erdem had been paid an average of $200,000. And in 2013, the two talked about forming a partnership.

But Erdem then learned from the CEO of the clinics that his patient revenue for 2012 was about $350,000, which surprised him because he had only been paid $230,000, the lawsuit said.

As it turns out, Erdem claims, the real amount for the revenue was nearly $600,000 in collections for 2012.

“The actual amount of money Dr. Erdem brought in to the practice was kept hidden from him so he would not know he was being paid less than half of what he was entitled to,” the lawsuit said.

When the numbers came to light, Schlesinger allegedly told Erdem that “they would figure out the difference and make it right,” the lawsuit said.

But Erdem said they never did.

He is suing on a number of counts including fraud and breach of contract.

Schlesinger didn’t return a call for comment.

Erdem’s attorney, Tré Kitchens of Little Rock, said that to win his case, he’ll have to prove that there was an agreement and Schlesinger didn’t follow it. “And Schlesinger deceived Erdem and intended to do it,” Kitchens said.

We asked Kitchens if that will be difficult because there wasn’t a written agreement between the two parties.

“I haven’t done a lawsuit that’s easy yet, and I’ve been doing this for 15 years,” Kitchens said. “And I don’t anticipate this one being any different.”