March 1, 2011 Recent Legal News





Minnesota v Casareto

Nurse Sarah Casareto of Abbott Northwestern Hospital stole the pain medicine meant for a patient undergoing treatment for kidney stones.  The patient was in agony but the nurse fell asleep.  The patient may still sue the hospital. The nurse is now in therapy.

US v over 100

Over 100 nurses, physicians and physical therapists in nine cities have been arrested for $200 million Medicare fraud in the usual Miami area plus LA, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Houston, Detroit and Brooklyn.  They have been charged with fraud, illegal kickbacks and money laundering.  They allegedly paid money to brokers to get patients to come to them.  The physicians allegedly altered charts and lied.  Some podiatrists billed for procedures not performed.  A proctologist charged for 10 hemorrhoid surgeries on one patient. 


Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) has settled with the feds for $9.1 million for submitting false Medicare claims.  This involved Community Hospital of San Bernardino, St. Bernadine Medical Center in San Bernardino and St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Re Bluff along with O'Connor  Hospital and Seton Medical Center. CHW had paid another fine in 2001 of over $10 million.  

Maryland v Nine Hospitals

Nine Maryland Hospitals including the University of Maryland Med Center have been fined for higher than normal preventable complications.  The hospitals are getting rate reductions for the coming year as their fine.  These hospitals are Prince George, Doctors Community Hospital, Laurel Regional Hospital, Union Hospital in Cecil County, Montgomery General  Hospital, Civista Med Center, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Washington Adventist Hospital and the University.  The total amount lost by the hospitals were $2.1 million.

US v Illinois Blues

Illinois Blue Cross Blue Shield has agreed to pay $25 million to settle allegations that they fraudulently shifted claims to Medicaid. The insurer denied claims that were legitimate and then the Medicaid system had to pay. The insurer denied "inappropriate conduct."  

Patients v US

The patients at the Miami VA have sued for being given HIV and or Hepatitis from unsterile procedures.  To date 45 have sued and another 115 are planning to sue.  I do not understand why the VA can not sterilize their colonoscopy equipment properly but this is common in the system. Top


Sriranam v Patel

The two were de facto partners without a contract and eventually split.  After the split the plaintiff sued for accounting and money owed.  There were two contracts at issue.  The first one was only done by the defendant and the second by both.  The plaintiff won the money owed via the second contract.

Wentworth Douglas v Young Novis Prof Assn.

Two pathologists were let go after the hospital had a problem with accreditation.  The hospital stated that the pathologists took information from the hospital computers.  The pathologists sued for defamation false light.  The court ruled that the hospital only accused one pathologist and so the other pathologists claim was dismissed.  The defamation needed to go to jury.  

Parks v Cleveland University Hospitals

As the hospitals are attempting to buy physician practices to steal their money, they have been found guilty of age discrimination in the firing of a woman who worked for them for 30 years.  The jury found for the plaintiff in the sum of $900,000.  She was fired for a patient mix-up while her younger colleagues were never disciplined at all. She was also replaced with two younger people. 

Holsapple v Upstate New York

A former neurosurgeon at Upstate New York had reported the University for its allowing one surgeon to oversee two different back surgeries in two different operating rooms.  He did not know that the University had already been reported and investigated by the state for the infraction.  He lost his position as quality officer and resident coordinator with reduced pay.  He since left and is suing for lost pay etc.  

Harris v Bradley Memorial Hospital
Conn. Supreme Ct.

 Is this a win?  You be the judge.  Dr. Stephen Harris, a surgeon at the hospital had his surgical privileges revoked by the hospital.  The hospital did every dirty trick in the book and got caught.  However, the physician also agreed to stop doing surgery when confronted by the state licensing agency.  Dr. Harris lost his privileges in 2001 and after losing at all the hospital levels he sued.  In 2010 he eventually won in the court.  He was awarded $250,000 in compensatory damages which was reduced by the judge to $150,000.  He also won punitive damages of $612,919.20 plus interest of $200,000.  The punitive damages were justified by the amount of legal fees of the same amount.  So in summary the physician won $150,000 plus interest, the attorney got $612,919.20 plus interest and the surgeon can not do surgery. I will say the hospital deserved to lose the money for their unconscionable actions and the court intimated they were really stupid for not contesting the manner of the trial judge in not allowing HCQIA protection.   

Ortiz v Glusman
Texas Ct App

The patient was admitted to the hospital by a physician who requested a consultation by Dr. Glusman.  His answering service was called and the Dr. stated he was not on call but would see the patient the next day.  He was not told by the nurse that it was an emergency.  The patient was transferred to another hospital the next day prior to being seen by Dr. Glusman.  He was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury and sued Dr. Glusman.  The court found there was no physician patient relationship as he had never seen or given any orders on the patient.  He created no positive action to create a relationship.

McLeod v Select Specialty Hospital
ND Ohio

McLeod was a respiratory therapist at the hospital and was black.  She wrote up a white therapist for not doing her job and was reprimanded for this.  She did this several times and eventually was terminated.  She sued under Section 1983, Title 7, and state defamation claims.  The 1983 claim was dismissed since there was no state person or institution involved.  She could continue her Title 7 claims against the institution but not the individuals.  She could continue her state claims.  All this in the summary judgment court.           Top


Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC
US Supreme Court

The high court has ruled for Wyeth in a case by the parents of a child who sustained a serious side effect from a childhood vaccine.  The court stated that federal law protected the maker of the vaccine by putting in a special vaccine court that the parents did not use in their case.  The court works on a Worker Compensation Claim basis where compensation is given without long trials.  The case was decided on a 6-2 vote.   Dissenting were Ginsburg and Sotomeyor.  Kagan did not take part. 

American Center for Law and Justice v US

The Center filed a suit against the individual mandate in Obamacare based on religious freedom and lost.   Three of the five plaintiffs do not believe in medical care at all and believe God will heal them.  The other two prefer holistic medicine.  This is the third Democratic judge to go for the law and the two Republican judges went against the law. 

Mazer v US

Seven California counties and their physicians are suing the government for classifying their counties as rural and therefore paying the physicians less.  The counties state that living is expensive and they are no longer rural.  They can not get physicians to move there due to the lower pay by Medicare.  They are suing for $3.2 Billion.  The law suit encompasses 200 underpaid counties in the country.  

Physician Hospitals of America v Sebellus
ED Texas

In a set back for Obamacare, the court allowed the claim of the physician owned hospital to go forward without going through administrative Medicare hearings first.  The hospital had made significant monetary outlays before the law was passed and it would have been a huge burden on the hospital to build, see a Medicare patient and be denied, then go through the administrative hearings and then sue.  The burden was enough that the hospital could sue now.  This will probably serve as a stepping stone for many other physician owned hospitals in the near future.    Top



DISCLAIMER: Although this article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented.