Former Bell Hospital CFO files age discrimination suit

Former Bell Hospital CFO files age discrimination suit

ISHPEMING — ABC 10 has learned that the former chief financial officer at Bell Memorial Hospital has filed a federal age discrimination suit against the new owners, Duke LifePoint, and various subsidiaries.

Gerald Messana of Marquette was 54 years old and the Bell Memorial CFO when let go last year. The lawsuit states that he was replaced by Teresa Morrison, 38. Messana’s suit claims Morrison is “less qualified and less experienced” than himself. The loss of his job caused Messana “extreme mental anguish,” the suit states.

In November 2013, Messana’s Bell CFO job was eliminated “in spite of good work performance” that included regular performance reviews, wage increases and having significant responsibilities. He has a long history with Bell. In September 2008, he became chief operation officer of Bell Medical, essentially the hospital’s doctors’ group and other services. In May 2011, he became CFO for both Bell Memorial Hospital and Bell Medical.

Five months later, he was promoted to interim CEO of Bell Hospital in addition to its top financial executive. Messana was first hired as the Bell comptroller and held that position from October 1992 to March 1998. In January 2008, Messana was rehired and served in several management positions. The now 55-year-old Messana is accusing Duke LifePoint under the federal “Age Discrimination Employment Act.”

The suit states that Duke LifePoint purchased Bell Memorial Hospital in 2013 and its name was officially changed to BMH Wind-Down, Inc. Bell Memorial Hospital and Marquette General Hospital recently changed their names and both are now part of the Duke Lifepoint family.

Messana is suing for an undisclosed amount above $75,000 including loss of wages and benefits. Messana and his attorney have so far declined comment. He is asking for a civil jury trial in federal court.