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Bellingham physician has new lawyers in PeaceHealth lawsuit

Dr. Lin, who criticized St. Joe's COVID-19 practices, anticipates 2024 trial

Dr. Ming Lin.
Dr. Ming Lin's attorneys in his lawsuit against PeaceHealth withdrew from the case. Lin, an emergency room doctor at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, was fired after speaking publicly against the hospital's safety practices. He sued in May 2020, claiming PeaceHealth dismissed him in retaliation for his comments. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
By Ralph Schwartz Local Government Reporter

Dr. Ming Lin, the emergency room physician who lost his job after blowing the whistle on COVID-19 safety practices at Bellingham’s hospital, has new attorneys and remains adamant about taking his lawsuit against PeaceHealth to trial.

The trial, which had been scheduled for February 2024 in Whatcom County Superior Court, was moved last week to Oct. 8, 2024. 

Lin’s lawyers, Jason Fellner and Lindsey Anne Morgan of the San Francisco firm Millstein Fellner LLP, stepped in after the doctor’s former attorneys dropped his case. They decided to stop representing Lin after he said he wouldn’t accept a settlement — even one as big as the $2 million his lawyers had proposed — unless PeaceHealth admitted it was wrong for firing him in late March 2020.

In his lawsuit, filed in May 2020, Lin said he was dismissed after 17 years at St. Joe’s in retaliation for speaking out about what he claimed were unsafe practices at the hospital in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In court filings, PeaceHealth has denied wrongdoing.

After being spurned by his former lawyers, who had worked at the behest of the American Civil Liberties Union, Lin landed on his feet. His current representation has a penthouse address in San Francisco’s Embarcadero district. 

In an interview on Friday, Lin said he had connected with them through the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM), an advocacy group that supports physicians who work in corporate medicine.

AAEM is soliciting donations to help pay Lin’s legal fees. Lin said he doesn’t need the money personally, and that he wants to ensure that as much of it as possible goes to the organization or other nonprofits who work to protect doctors and their patients.

“To me, it’s more about our community and what we want from our hospital,” Lin said. “The hospital should be a refuge for the poor, the unwanted, for those who are suffering. Our hospitals, especially nonprofits, they have become more of a parasite. They make money off the tax breaks they get, and they give less than the tax breaks they receive.”


As recounted in the lawsuit, Lin sent an email to the hospital’s chief medical officer (CMO) on March 15, 2020, while still on staff at the hospital’s ER as a contractor with TeamHealth. The email said, “PeaceHealth is so far behind when it comes to protecting patients and the community but even worse when it comes to protecting the staff.”

Lin also named TeamHealth as a defendant in his lawsuit.

His email to the CMO, also posted at the time to Lin’s Facebook page, said St. Joe’s should start testing patients for COVID-19 in the parking lot, rather than inside the building, as other hospitals were already doing. It also said temperature checks and risk questionnaires should be required of all patients and staff who entered the hospital.

PeaceHealth officials on Friday, Dec. 1 declined to comment on active litigation.

“However, it’s important to emphasize that PeaceHealth’s commitment to patient and caregiver safety is and always has been our top priority, and it drives all clinically related decision-making,” PeaceHealth Communications Specialist Anne Williams said in an email.


This story was updated at 5:35 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4, with the new trial date in Ming Lin’s lawsuit against PeaceHealth.

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