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Lawsuits against Butte health center, doctor on hold for 60 days

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Southwest Montana Community Health Center

The Southwest Montana Community Health Center, 445 Centennial Ave.

The federal government is defending the Southwest Montana Community Health Center in Butte in lawsuits accusing it of negligently hiring a doctor who two female patients accuse of sexually assaulting them during exams.

And on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris stayed all proceedings in the lawsuits against the center and 66-year-old physician Jordan Greer until the women exhaust administrative remedies through a federal agency in claims against the health center.

The stay will be in place for at least 60 days, and during that time, attorneys for the women cannot depose Greer for questioning on accusations they made specifically against him in their lawsuits.

If claims against the center are resolved administratively through the U.S. Public Health Service, the civil cases against Greer would likely proceed in state District Court in Butte where the suits were initially filed.

Larry Henke, a Butte attorney representing the women, said he was not concerned about the temporary stay.

“The facts will not change in 60 days,” Henke said. “Jordan Greer is going to have to explain what he did whether it be tomorrow or 61 days from tomorrow. I’m not concerned about a delay because it is merely an opportunity for the government to try to resolve the case against the center.”

The Standard has elected not to identify the plaintiffs to protect their identity as potential victims of sexual assault. The lawsuits seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from Greer and the health center.

The women accuse Greer of sexually assaulting them during exams at the health center and then stalking them through sexually explicit text messages and other behavior.

One woman says he stroked her body in a non-medical manner, touched her in areas not related to an exam and pressed against her with an erection. The other woman says he pressed against her breasts, talked about sex and made references to an erection.

Both lawsuits also name the health center as a defendant, claiming among other things it was negligent for hiring Greer a year after he surrendered his medical license in Alaska in 2017 due to criminal and disciplinary matters related to excessive use of alcohol.

When asked about the lawsuits after they were filed three months ago, the center told The Montana Standard that Greer was no longer employed there but under its policy, it could not comment on pending litigation.

In court filings, Greer denies the allegations, saying the care and treatment he provided was at all times reasonable and appropriate. He says the content of text messages, if unaltered, speak for themselves but denies the women “fully or accurately represented the information” in them.

He also asserts several other defenses, including ones that would bar the claims against him for various reasons, and asks the cases to be dismissed and he be awarded attorney fees and other costs.

The claims against Southwest Montana Community Health Center allege it was negligent in hiring and supervising Greer and failed to protect their confidential information.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Montana said the federal government should be the defendant in claims against the center because it provides federal grants to such facilities “in medically underserved populations," and Morris allowed the substitution.

Over the next 60 days, the plaintiffs will try to resolve those claims through federal administrative channels. If they can’t be resolved that way, both lawsuits would proceed in federal court.

If they are resolved, it’s possible the lawsuit claims against Greer himself are returned to state District Court in Butte and the cases proceed there.

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