Mired in a series of breach-of-contract lawsuits, equipment maintenance firm NeoDyme Technologies Corp. earlier this month laid off about 50 of its 80 employees, according to government officials and former employees.
College Station, Texas-based NeoDyme has been fighting at least six confirmed lawsuits alleging that the company neglected to pay vendors on behalf of hospital clients and thereby failed to meet its contractual obligations. Litigants include hospitals and health systems, as well as equipment vendors. The firm has denied the allegations.
NeoDyme essentially acts as a middleman between hospitals and vendors. Hospitals pay NeoDyme to assume responsibility for the management and maintenance of capital equipment, which can include everything from diagnostic imaging machines to computers and telephones.
NeoDyme, in turn, acts on behalf of a hospital to negotiate new maintenance contracts with vendors that save the hospital money and ensure vendors are paid for their services.
The healthcare organizations that have sued NeoDyme allege the company took their money to manage equipment but never paid vendors for routine maintenance. Hospital litigants say the company's alleged negligence resulted in problems ranging from unusable equipment to damaged reputations with vendors.
With the lawsuits stacking up, early this month the company laid off about two-thirds of its workforce, giving terminated workers no warning or severance package, former employees said on condition of anonymity. On repeated occasions NeoDyme officials declined to comment for this story. The company also will not speak to media outlets or government agencies.
Despite numerous attempts to reach NeoDyme officials by phone and in person, "we've had no contact with the company," said Tom Wilkinson, executive director of the Brazos Valley Council of Governments, a state agency that helps coordinate unemployment services for a seven-county region in central Texas. "They have refused to divulge any information to us in terms of the names and numbers of individuals (terminated)."
Officials in Texas have not yet determined if NeoDyme's failure to notify anyone before the layoffs constituted a legal violation.
Wilkinson estimated that 50 employees were laid off the first week of this month but said he could not be certain. Former employees disclosed similar estimates.
Among the hospitals that have filed lawsuits against NeoDyme since February 2001 are five-hospital Baptist Health System in San Antonio, seven-hospital MedStar Health in Baltimore and Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey. Earlier this month, Baptist settled its suit with NeoDyme, according to Baptist's attorney Jeff Dahl of the San Antonio law firm Harkins Latimer & Dahl.
Citing a confidentiality agreement, Dahl declined to reveal details of that settlement. At deadline, updated information on the status of the other suits was unavailable.