Doctor who appealed attorney fees award now owes more

A northern Indiana doctor who lost a jury trial after he left a practice and started his own, and was ordered to pay damages and his former practice’s attorney fees, now may be on the hook for even greater costs.

The Indiana Court of Appeals Thursday affirmed a trial court’s order that Dr. Uthman Cavallo pay attorney fees of $89,706.11 to Allied Physicians of Michiana LLC, the OB/GYN practice where he worked until forming his own practice. A jury determined he violated a non-compete clause and awarded Allied damages of just under $175,000.

The appellate panel affirmed Thursday, rejecting Cavallo’s arguments on appeal.

“We conclude that Allied’s claim was not barred by res judicata or waiver because the issue of attorney fees could not necessarily have been raised during trial, such that res judicata or waiver should apply. We also conclude that the trial court did not err when it denied Cavallo a jury trial because Cavallo did not have a right to a jury trial on the reasonableness of attorney fees; nor did the trial court abuse its discretion in determining a reasonable amount of attorney fees to award to Allied,” Judge Rudolph R. Pyle III wrote for the panel.  

“Finally, because it is undisputed that the contract between Cavallo and Allied provided for recovery of attorney fees, we grant Allied’s request for appellate attorney fees and remand for further proceedings so that the trial court may determine a reasonable amount,” Pyle wrote.

The case is Uthman Cavallo, M.D. v. Allied Physicians of Michiana, LLC, 71A05-1406-PL-285.

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