8 Recent Lawsuits Involving Hospitals
Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems asked a federal judge to dismiss Tenet Healthcare's lawsuit seeking to recover the costs incurred from resisting CHS' takeover bid. CHS attorneys have said Dallas-based Tenet has no legal standing to seek costs, and have asked U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn in Dallas to dismiss the suit. CHS withdrew a $7.3 billion offer to buy Tenet in May after Tenet rejected the bid three times. Tenet is seeking unspecified "costs and disbursements incurred in connection with analyzing defendants' materially false and misleading" statements.
2. U.S. Intervenes in Suit Against Florida's Halifax Hospital, Alleges Stark Law Violations
The United States partially intervened in a False Claims Act lawsuit against Halifax Hospital Medical Center, based in Daytona Beach, Fla. The United States alleges that Halifax violated Stark Law, since contracts with three neurosurgeons and six medical oncologists were allegedly improper. The contracts allegedly paid these physicians more than fair market value, were not commercially reasonable or took into consideration the volume or value of the physicians' referrals.
3. Florida's Southeast Volusia Hospital District Settles Foundation Suit Over Failed Merger
The Southeast Volusia Hospital District, which operates Bert Fish Medical Center in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., agreed to pay attorneys representing the Bert Fish Foundation just under $1 million to settle a claim by the attorneys that sought to reimburse legal expenses surrounding the foundation's suit against Bert Fish's merger with Adventist Health's Florida Hospital in Orlando. The attorneys representing the foundation successfully argued the merger between Bert Fish and Florida Hospital violated the Sunshine law and should be voided. A judge overturned the $80 million merger in February. Southeast Volusia's board will vote to approve the settlement later this month.
4. North Carolina's Onslow Memorial Hospital Prevails in Privacy Lawsuit
Onslow Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, N.C. prevailed in a privacy lawsuit that alleged hospital employees improperly viewed a murdered patient's autopsy X-rays. The family of a patient, beaten to death in 2009, sued OMH, alleging hospital employees shared her X-ray autopsy records with other employees. Citing N.C. General Statute 130 A, the appeals court upheld the Superior Court's decision, arguing the law allows any individual to examine autopsy reports as long as they are supervised and do not make copies.
5. UT Southwestern Med Center to Pay $1.4M to Settle Alleged False Claims
UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas agreed to pay $1.4 million to settle allegations the hospital submitted false claims to Medicaid and Medicare regarding the supervision of resident physicians between 2004 and 2007. UT Southwestern did not admit any wrongdoing but settled the case in order to "to avoid ongoing litigation expenses and prevent further distraction from our mission," UT Southwestern President Daniel K. Podolsky, MD, said in a statement.
6. Whistleblower Suit Against Robert Packer Hospital, Guthrie Clinic Dismissed
A federal judge dismissed a whistleblower suit against Sayre, Pa.-based Guthrie Clinic and its Robert Packer Hospital that alleged the organization submitted false claims to federal health programs resulting from improper financial arrangements. The suit was filed Rodney Repko, former general counsel for the health system, who was indicted on bank fraud charges involving the theft of $2 million. Senior U.S. District Court Judge James Munley dismissed the suit after determining the allegations were the same allegations made by Mr. Repko as part of his plea bargain.
7. Female Employee Claims UNC Hospitals Pay Male Counterpart 16% More
Natalie Demers, a technician, filed a state lawsuit against UNC Hospitals and UNC Health Care, alleging that the Durham, N.C.-based system paid a male counterpart 16 percent more for performing the same job. Ms. Demers' lawsuit also claims the supervisor retaliated against her after she complained of unequal treatment by reassigning her to a five-day, rather than four-day, work schedule. Her suit claims UNC Hospitals violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the equal-protection provisions of the state constitution. She is seeking back pay and damages.
8. Audit Manager from Miami's Jackson Health Accused of $83k Payroll Scheme
An audit manager from the financially-struggling Jackson Health System in Miami was accused of masterminding a payroll scheme that swindled $83,000 from the public system. Tiffany Gordon-Smith was charged with participating in an organized scheme to defraud, grand theft and unlawful compensation. An ongoing investigation into the scheme is expected to result in more arrests. Ms. Gordon-Smith allegedly bilked the $83,000 by writing Jackson paychecks to "ghost employees." One ghost employee was not even working at Jackson when Ms. Gordon-Smith was paying her.
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