Appeals court rules Sunrise Senior Living interfered with therapists' contracts

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A federal appeals court found that when Sunrise Senior Living switched from CGB Occupational Therapy to Symphony Health Services, it recruited therapists from the first company to the newly hired company, thereby tortiously interfering with the contractual relationship between CGB and its therapists. Sunrise Senior Living, a management company, placed the therapists at two nursing homes owned by RHA Health Services. However, although Sunrise was liable, the McLean, VA-based company did not act illegally, the court ruled.

The court relied upon the "anti-raiding" clause in the contract between CGB and RHA that prevented RHA from trying to contract with CGB therapists for one year following contract termination. The court also noted that a Sunrise administrator contacted CGB therapists prior to the switchover to see if they would be interested in joining Symphony once that provider took over for CGB.
The court remanded to the trial court the issue of whether, and how much, to award CGB in punitive damages. The appeals court also found that Sunrise's objections to the punitive damages the lower court originally awarded could be revisited by the trial court.