Former WINK (Ft. Myers) Matthew Dougherty says he was wrongly terminated and is suing the station.
The suit alleges that WINK News fired Dougherty on July 27 because he would not destroy notes, video, photos and other information related to a story involving about 100 boxes of patient medical records found in an auctioned-off storage unit.
The records included credit card receipts, shot records, Social Security numbers and other detailed patient information.
Dougherty, who was one year into a three-year contract with WINK, said he had originally been directed by the station to cover the storage unit auction and the discovery of the records.
However, the suit alleges that once WINK news director Russ Kilgore saw that the story involved Dr. Gerardo A. Gamez, his family physician, he directed Dougherty and his producers to “kill the story.”
The suit, filed Aug. 13, alleges that Kilgore ordered Dougherty to conceal what he discovered, ordered him to return computer gear containing information about the story, not speak to any state or federal investigators involved and that the reporter had violated HIPAA and would be in trouble if he spoke about the story.
Further, the suit said Kilgore told Dougherty that he would meet with the doctor’s attorney to ensure him the story would not go public and that in texts to the reporter, ordered him to “gather up all your notes, put them into one big seal-able envelope and get it to me.”
Dougherty said Wednesday that Kilgore’s connection to Gamez is what got the story killed. “The story would have run if it had been another doctor,” Dougherty said.
Kilgore on Wednesday would only comment that the station has not yet been served with the suit and that the issue is a personnel matter.
H/T News Press