The ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care clinic on Putney Road in Brattleboro.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

BRATTLEBORO — A Wilmington doctor who provided urgent care at ClearChoiceMD’s clinic in Brattleboro is suing in federal court for retaliatory termination and breach of contract.

Robert P. Lout, who is being represented by Costello, Valente & Gentry of Brattleboro, contends he was terminated because he objected to an administrator or medical assistant’s interference with his medical judgment.

As a result, he found himself in treatment for emotional pain and suffering, states the complaint.

Lout is a physician formally trained in internal medicine with decades of experience in emergency medicine and urgent care, states the complaint.

He began working for ClearChoiceMD in early 2020, believing “the experience would be the capstone to his remarkable career.”

ClearChoiceMD opened its first center in Berlin in 2014 and since has grown to include 15 locations across Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. It is headquarterd in New London, N.H.

ClearChoiceMD, which has yet to file its response to Lout’s complaint, declined to comment.

In October 2020, ClearChoice’s CEO, Dr. Marcus Hampers, completed an evaluation of Lout in order to allow Lout to obtain staff privileges at a nearby hospital.

Hampers stated he had no reason to doubt Lout’s qualifications for privileges and that Lout’s practice patterns “were acceptable and conformed with high standards of professional conduct ...”

About that same time, a woman came to the clinic complaining of neck pain to Lout, who suspected that she was suffering from spinal stenosis.

Lout gave the patient a short-term prescription for oxycodone and acetaminophen and referred her for magnetic resonance imagining, which showed that she had mild to moderate stenosis.

A week later, the patient returned, and Lout referred her to a neurosurgeon while renewing her short-term prescription for oxycodone and acetaminophen.

Another week later, the woman returned, at which time a medical assistant told Lout the patient was a “drug seeker ...”

“Concerned that [the assistant] might interfere with a computer-generated prescription, Dr. Lout provided a handwritten prescription ... for a limited number of oxycodone and acetaminophen to relieve her pain until her upcoming appointment with the neurosurgeon,” states the complaint.

The medical assistant reported Lout to ClearChoice’s director of clinical operations, Joseph Sicard, claiming there was no reason to prescribe narcotics.

During a conference call with Lout, Sicard alleged that Lout “engaged in excessive and inappropriate prescription of narcotics and failed to use a screening form to assess patients’ risk of opiate use.”

Support our journalism. Subscribe today. →

“Dr. Lout had approximately 45 years’ experience in assessing the risk of opiate use, and possessed, based on certification by the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, a ‘Controlled Substance Certificate’ issued by the Drug Enforcement Agency,” states the complaint. “That certificate granted Dr. Lout expanded privileges, including the ability to prescribe additional controlled substances such as buprenorphine and methadone.”

The Vermont Board of Health’s Prescription Monitoring Program also concluded that his opioid prescribing practices were consistent with other Vermont emergency prescribers, states the complaint.

Later, in November 2020, two patients came to the clinic for a COVID-19 test, one of whom tested positive.

The woman denied symptoms typical of COVID-19, but expressed symptoms consistent with tick-borne illness, states the complaint.

“Dr. Lout has been recognized for his extraordinary knowledge of tick-borne illnesses ... Dr. Lout’s knowledge is based on recommendations by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Academy of Neurology, the American College of Rheumatology, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Lout recommended the woman start treatment with the antibiotic doxycycline, but only after lab testing was completed.

During a follow-up phone call, Lout asked the patient if she had reconsidered being tested and treated for tick-borne illness, as he had recommended when he saw her in person.

“Patent X replied that she had agreed with Dr. Lout’s recommendations, but the ‘woman releasing her said I did not need any of the tests nor antibiotics because I was positive for COVID,’” states the complaint.

Speaking with the medical assistant, Lout said the patient may have had a treatable serious illness that was not COVID-19, and that as the physician, he did not want his recommendations disregarded.

When the patient was told she would have a three-hour wait for the test, the patient declined.

“At that point, Dr. Lout handed the telephone to [the medical assistant], who spoke harshly and angrily to [the patient],” states the complaint.

That same day, the medical assistant made a phone call to Hampers, which Lout was told was about patient complaints, inappropriate prescription of narcotics, and and complaints from other providers.

“The allegations were unsubstantiated and baseless,” states the complaint.

Hampers told Lout “to finish his current patient obligations and vacate the premises.”

The complaint states his termination was based in part on the medical assistant’s “retaliatory animus” toward Lout.

“At the time his employment was terminated, Dr. Lout had a reasonable expectation of continuing to work at ClearChoice for years to come, earning no less than the approximately $120,000 per year he was earning at the time of his termination,” states the complaint. “As a result of ClearChoice’s breach of contract and wrongful termination of his employment, Dr. Lout suffered monetary damages and pain and suffering, including but not limited to depression. Dr. Lout continues to see a therapist for his ongoing emotional distress.”

Bob Audette can be contacted at