Ophthalmologists in multi-million dollar dispute

A CENTRAL Queensland ophthalmologist who saw red when a business agreement turned sour has had a multi-million dollar court claim dismissed.

Vision Eye Institute took Dr David Kitchen to court for a contract breach, arguing the ophthalmologist broke his agreement to work for the company for five years after they bought his Central Queensland Eye Centre practices in 2006.

Dr Kitchen counter-sued the company over a contract breach relating to staff remuneration and alleged Vision convinced him to sell the business using misleading statements and false financial incentives.

A Supreme Court judgment handed down this week states the claim and counterclaim each sought tens of millions of dollars.

CQEC had consulting clinics at North Mackay, Mater Medical Centre in Rockhampton and Gladstone's Mater Medical. He also did day surgeries at Bundaberg's private hospital.

The judgment details claims Dr Kitchen allegedly terminated his employment contract and set up new practices.

Vision argued he breached his contract in doing so.

The company argued it lost out financially from Dr Kitchen's termination and breach, including the closure of the Rockhampton and Gladstone clinics.

Expert accountants assessed the closure costs to be $256,571 on top of lost earnings, believed to be more than $10 million.

The price Vision paid for the practice included a large number of shares, worth $5 million in 2006, and Vision took on a $7.8 million bank debt.

Justice Peter Applegarth found in Vision's favour about the company's shares, ruling Dr Kitchen and his wife were not yet entitled to shares owed to them.

The court ruled Dr Kitchen and his wife must also pay Vision an amount yet to be decided.

- APN NEWSDESK



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