Ousted CEO sues Broward Health

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Broward Health's ex-CEO Pauline Grant filed a lawsuit Tuesday against North Broward Hospital District, which does business as Broward Health, over alleged open-meetings law violations, according to the Sun Sentinel

Broward Health's board voted 4-1 on Dec. 1 to fire Ms. Grant. The board voted to remove Ms. Grant from her position after an independent counsel review showed potential violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute. 

A subsequent independent investigation found Ms. Grant "ran afoul" of federal anti-kickback law when awarding emergency room contracts to orthopedic physicians seeking to participate in Broward Health North's on-call emergency department rotation. However, the investigation found she did not receive direct payments for her actions. 

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Ms. Grant accuses Broward's general counsel Lynn Barrett and four Broward board members of violating the Florida open-meetings law to bring about her termination. Ms. Grant alleges that before the Dec. 1 meeting, Ms. Barrett had discussions with board members about her dismissal, even though her firing was not on the meeting's agenda.

In an affidavit filed with the suit, board member Sheela VanHoose, who was at an out-of-state conference when the board voted to oust Ms. Grant, said she learned of the kickback allegations when Ms. Barrett called her just before the Dec. 1 meeting was scheduled to begin. Ms. VanHoose claims Ms. Barrett called to inform her that outside counsel had been retained to examine the allegations against Ms. Grant.  

"In essence, the general counsel conducted a secret investigation into the petitioner over the course of several months, specifically told the petitioner that she was not under investigation, and then used outside counsel to conduct these rapid-fire meetings with only the information that there may have been a violation of the law," states the lawsuit, according to the Sun Sentinel.

The Broward County State Attorney's Office is investigating whether the meeting violated Florida's open-meetings law.

Broward Health did not respond to the Sun Sentinel's request for comment.

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