March 1, 2018 Recent Legal News






Peer Review and Employment


New York v Sasthakonar

Dr. Venkatesh Sasthakonar, a bariatric surgeon at Nassau University had the charges of strangulation dismissed by a judge for lack of evidence.  The DA had moved to dismiss.  He had been accused of trying to strangle a female nurse with a cord from his sweatshirt (something I had often wanted to do at 2 am when called for a sleeping pill order). The physician has also been suspended from the hospital staff.  That is now under review.

California v Bathum

Christopher Bathum of LA ran over 13 drug treatment centers is Southern California.  He was convicted of rape and drug dealing.  He went after addicts who were easy prey for him.          Top


Aswad v Hargan
D New Mex.

Oncologist Mohamed Aswad of Deming, New Mexico, sued after he was banned from the Medicare program for 13 years.  He was the sole oncologist in the small town and since no local pharmacy would stock the drugs he needed he purchased them via mail order.  He learned, according to the physician, that one drug was misbranded after his office had been raided.  He self reported to the medical board and after a short time of having no license received his license back.  He also plead guilty to receiving a misbranded drug and charging for it.  Then the feds came and took away his ability to bill Medicare or Medicaid for the 13 years.  The federal judge said that the HHS Secretary had the right to sanction him for that amount of time.  The state HHS requested and received a waiver of the exclusion for the county in which he practices.  

FTC v Sanford Health
D North Dakota

In this antitrust case Sanford Health was to purchase Mid Dakota Clinic.  Sanford is a large player with many hospitals and physicians under contract throughout the country.  Mid Dakota is a local player in Bismarck with 60 physicians and 19 NPs.  They also have nine clinics in 5 locations and an ASC.  Mid Dakota was a strong referrer to Catholic Health hospitals which would be shout out in the merger.  The FTC argued and the court agreed that the relevant market was the Bismarck area and a 40 mile radius.  Sanford Health said that since the major insurer was statewide the market should be statewide, a dumb argument.  The court agreed with the FTC.  The FTC showed evidence that the combined Sanford and Mid Dakota would have almost all the peds and well over 75% of the OB and 100% of the general surgery.  Sanford responded with the nebulous efficiencies which went no where.

Massachusetts v Precision Testing Laboratories

The owner of the labs agreed to pay $400,000 to settle with Massachusetts and the lab will pay $657,000 for a settlement with Connecticut.  They billed for high price urine drug tests as a routine instead of a less expensive test.  They are also barred from billing each state for tests for 10 years. 

US v Capos

Dr. Nicholas Capos, Jr., a cardiologist in Grass Valley, California, was sentenced to 53 months in prison for prescribing oxy for no medical reason.  He has also lost his medical license.

US v Stabler

Wehnona Stabler, the former head of Pine Ridge Hospital in the Rapid City, south Dakota, area has plead guilty to making false statements on a federal form.  She was given a check for $5000 by a now accused pedophile physician and did not report it.  

US v Melgen

Dr. Salomon Melgren, an ophthalmologist in Palm Beach, was sentenced for attempted fraud.  He had been found guilty of 67 counts of fraud and ordered to give restitution of $42,561,205 as well as sentenced to 17 years in prison.  He diagnosed people with medical conditions they did not have in order to treat them and bill Medicare.  He and Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey both recently went though a federal trial on bribery and fraud which ended in a hung jury.  

US v Brattleboro Memorial Hospital

The hospital agreed to pay $1,655,000 to settle allegations they knowingly filed false claims to Medicare and Medicaid.  The Vermont hospital was sued by a whistleblower for billing for outpatient lab without proper documentation to support the claims.

US v Diaz

Dr. Albert Diaz, an OB in Biloxi, is on trial for fraud.  He is accused of writing prescriptions without examining patients and then having these filled by Advantage Pharmacy.  They were for compounded salves and creams.  

Florida v Sohail

Dr. Ishrat Sohail, a pediatrician in Orlando, was arrested for giving vaccines she obtained for Medicaid patients to private pay patients.  In order to do this she allegedly gave partial doses to all.  This means all the children will need to be re-vaccinated.  She made extra money from the private pay patients.

US v Awerbuch

Dr. Gavin Awerbuch of Detroit was sentenced to several years in jail and restitution of $4.1 million for his part in a scheme to prescribe Subsys for his pain management patients.    He prescribed the med for no legitimate purposes.

US v Schabert

Dr. Erik Schabert and his ex-wife Mika Harris of Gainesville, Florida, were arrested for fraud.  They are accused of making false diagnosis for rosacea, acne and actinic keratosis in order to bill for procedures not covered under Medicare.        Top


Merck v Gilead Sciences
D Del

A judge overturned a jury verdict against Gilead for $2.54 Billion.  The case was whether or not Gilead's Sovaldi and Harvoni infringed on Merck's patents.  The judge said the Merck patent was invalid since it did not meet a requirement that it disclose how to make the treatment it covered without undue experimentation.  There will be an appeal.

20 States v US

Twenty state AG's have filed suit to declare OCare unconstitutional.  It is their belief that since the individual mandate is no longer the law there is no legal basis for the rest of the law.


Community Health Systems v Bauer
Tenn. Lower Court

A judge has tossed 3 of 6 charges against the ex-CEO of Lutheran Health Network, Brian Bauer.  The counts of trade disparagement, deceptive business practices and breach of loyalty of duty against Bauer were dismissed.  The remaining three counts of breach of contract, defamation and tortious interference with business remain.  

United Medical Center v DC Office of Open Government
To Be Filed

In a degree of hubris and stupidity even for a hospital the DC's only public hospital is thinking about suing because it will not obey the law regarding open meetings.  It voted in a closed meeting to shutter the hospital's OB ward.  DC wants the minutes of that meeting which the hospital will not give up.  The hospital is also in financial difficulties and need funds from DC and is considering need more money to fight DC.  Dumb is Dumb.        Top


McClure v Parvis
ED Pennsylvania

The plaintiff filed suit against Penn Valley Medicine and Chester County Hospital fro med mal and EMTALA violations.  The court said the EMTALA stands since in order to determine if a significant delay is an EMTALA violation requires resolving factual disputes after a record has been developed.  Therefore, the cause of action will be resolved at trial.  

Nayyar v Oakwood Hospital 
Michigan Supreme Court

In a case of legal malpractice, the attorney for the estate of the plaintiff screwed up royally.  In an open and shut case of medical malpractice where the plaintiff had surgery erroneously and the hospital conceded their error, the attorney was a hog and hogs get slaughtered.  He sued not under the med mal with limits but under negligence without limits of damages.  The trial judge struck the negligence and told the attorney he could only sue for med mal.  He dismissed the suit with prejudice.  The attorneys filed a new suit for med mal and got $20 million but only after filing an amended complaint for negligence.  The judge in the trial did a JNOV and that has been upheld.  The lawyer who should and hopefully will be sued for legal malpractice is according to the Washington Post Geoffrey Fieger, a well known attorney who likes headlines.  Probably not these.

Payas v Adventist Health
Fla Ct. App

The Florida court of appeals reversed the lower court to allow the law suit to go forward.  The plaintiff sued after a patient died following a paraesophageal hernia repair using the robot.  The suit and upper court contend that the hospital had a non-delegable duty over the robot.  The robot during the surgery part of the robot detached and lodged in the esophagus which leg to his death.  The claim of vicarious liability holds.        Top

Peer Review and Employment

Vanderhoef v Sparrow Carson Hospital

Jonnie Vanderhoef, a nurse anesthetist, was fired the day after the hospital was notified Michigan was investigating a physician that he complained about.  He complained about orthopedic surgeon Dr. Raymond Allard who has "voluntarily" suspended his medical staff privileges.  The plaintiff had complained about Allard's practices and his high infection rate.  Michigan investigated the hospital regarding the infections for HHS and has threatened the hospital with loss of accreditation.  Following this the CEO Mathew Thompson was been fired.  

Redmond v New Hampshire Hospital

The former nurse at the hospital is suing for the hospital ignoring her warnings that a patient was dangerous.  That patient later attacked her.  The kicker is that she is receiving worker compensation now and still wants to sue.  The attack happened in 2014 and she is now suing.        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.