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Bowman Gray School of Medicine's former head of orthopedic surgery has filed suit against Wake Forest University and four physicians, saying they forced him from the school after he refused to reverse disciplinary action against two staff members he believed were doing shoddy work.

In a suit filed in U.S. District Court this week, Dr. Anthony G. Gristina is seeking more than $50,000 in damages from Wake Forest and doctors Richard Janeway, Richard H. Dean, Gary G. Poehling and L. Andrew Koman.The four doctors, Gristina says, conspired to remove him as head of orthopedic surgery because he would not reverse disciplinary actions against Poehling and Koman, who worked for Gristina. Gristina was dismissed as section head in late April 1987. He says he was coerced into retiring from the faculty Jan. 15.

Gristina, 58, says he demanded that Poehling correct deficiencies in his performance after receiving complaints in 1985 from faculty members. Gristina says in the lawsuit that Poehling performed questionable surgery and lacked adequate surgical skills, was deficient in patient care, devoted inadequate attention to teaching and subverted ``patient care and teaching ethics for purposes of increased financial profit.'

Koman, who Gristina put on notice that his contract would not be renewed, ``was a detriment to the faculty' who once did ``major surgery on the wrong leg of a child,' the lawsuit says.

Janeway is Bowman Gray's executive dean, and Dean is chairman of the school's department of surgery.

Gristina says in the suit that he was denied due process and that the defendants destroyed important files, denied or restricted his privileges, impaired his ability to do research and spread false statements about him.

Bowman Gray officials declined to comment on the suit.

``We have a policy here that we don't comment on anything in litigation,' said Bill Glance, director of the medical school's office of information.

Gristina, who lives in Herndon, Va., is continuing his practice and organizing and operating a research institute where he is continuing his orthopedic research, according to one of his attorneys, J. Owen Zurhellen III of New York City.

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