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Palo Verde Valley Blythe/Quartzsite Times | Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona

home : latest news : local February 5, 2016

12/5/2013 12:00:00 PM
'Corrupt' alleges latest lawsuit against hospital doctors
Palo Verde Hospital/File photo
Palo Verde Hospital/File photo

Jaclyn Randall
Former Times Editor

BLYTHE - Dr. Houssain Sahlolbei's attorney has asked a federal court judge to dismiss a suit filed against the Palo Verde Hospital's Medical Executive Committee by Dr. Steven Maron, president of Valley Emergency Physicians Medical Group, Inc., who said Sahlolbei retaliated against him after he "threatened to expose the MEC as corrupt."

Dean J. Smith, attorney for Palo Verde Hospital Medical Executive Committee (MEC), filed a response asking a judge to dismiss the Nov. 6 suit in which Maron demands a jury trial to decide whether he is entitled to restitution and damages stemming from allegations Sahlolbei had a "vendetta against Maron after Maron complained about a transport of patient policy."

The Emergency Room Referral policy implemented at the hospital in January of 2010, required emergency room staff to call the patient's primary care doctor or the doctor-on-call to determine how to transfer patients to other hospitals. Maron alleges Sahlolbei created the policy as a way for Sahlolbei and the MEC to make sure patients used Desert Air Ambulance, owned by Palo Verde Health Care District Board president, Trina Sartin. Maron also alleges Sahlolbei made sure Desert Air transferred patients even when it may not have been in the patient's best interest.

In the complaint, Maron says he believed the policy interfered with his ability to take care of the patients promptly and to make sure they got the necessary medical care. Maron said from "time to time" he told the MEC and hospital CEO Peter Klune about his concerns and his belief it was best for the patient's emergency room doctor to decide how to transfer a patient.

Maron contends that as he was making headway with Klune in changing the policy, in May 2012, Sahlolbei demanded a meeting with Maron. At the meeting, Maron says Sahlolbei used "offensive language and profanity" the entire time, even Maron told him his language was "inappropriate."

Approximately one month later, Maron contends, he succeeded in getting the CEO to change the policy and establish a new one, the "Palo Verde Hospital Interfacility Transfer and EMTALA Compliance." The new policy gave emergency room doctors the power to decide whether and how to transfer a patient. The policy stipulated the emergency room doctors retained the right to make all decisions "unless and until" the patient's documented primary care doctor was present in the emergency room. The new policy also gave the emergency room doctor the right to decide whether the on-call doctor needed to see the patient while in the emergency room.

According to Maron, in November 2012, medical staff leaders released a memo that went against the policy stating the only valid transfer and referral policy was the one approved in April of 2010. The memo also stated the medical staff did not have to follow the newest policy and if a doctor failed to follow the April 2010 policy, a doctor would face an investigation and disciplinary action.

Maron asserts the memo created a conflict for the emergency room doctors because they were obligated to follow the hospital policy that MEC told them to ignore in the memo.

In December of 2012, Sahlolbei then told Maron that he "intended to aggressively eliminate" the re-credentialing of VEP's privileges if they did not go along with the way the MEC handled transports. A week later, Maron claims he told Klune he felt, based on Sahlolbei's comments the week prior, Sahlolbei would use a "peer review to retaliate against VEP."

In February of this year, Maron e-mailed Dennis Rutherford, who replaced Klune as CEO, explaining the hospital peer review would be unfair. Maron alleges the medical staff leadership should not be able to use the peer reviews to "abuse or bully" doctors. Sahlolbei, now chief of staff, sent a letter two weeks later, with accusations that Maron acted unprofessionally and lacked truthfulness when it pertained to the peer review and in dealings with the medical staff and he was now under investigation. According to Maron, the letter stated he had to appear in front of the MEC on March 19, 2013.

Maron believed the investigation served as a retaliation based on his disagreement over the transport policy and other "inappropriate conduct" at the hospital.

Maron further states in court documents that during the March 19 meeting, Sahlolbei asked the committee to discipline him after he accused Maron of being dishonest. Maron says committee members asked him about patients he had not treated and when he asked to see the charts, Sahlolbei "berated" him. During the meeting, Maron stated Sahlolbei brought up the e-mail Maron sent Rutherford in February, and told Maron he should have told MEC about his issues.

Maron claims he received another letter from Sahlolbei in April of this year informing him MEC was going forward with a full investigation.

VEP severed ties with Palo Verde Hospital July 1, 2013, and in a June 12, 2013 Times, "Letter to the Editor", Maron stated, "VEP has had to make the difficult choice to leave a hospital because of certain actions and/or threat of actions being taken against its physicians."

In the letter, Maron cited disagreements about the mode of transport and who made decisions about transports.

In the court documents, Maron claims the damages he suffered include loss of income, loss of professional stature, public humiliation, mental anguish and shame, as a result of the peer review. Although VEP left Palo Verde Hospital at the end of June, Maron remains under investigation by the MEC and with the threat of a filing against VEP is unable to resign from the medical staff.

The MEC asks the judge to dismiss Maron's claim because he "fails to state a claim against the medical staff" by not going through the proper administrative chain of command as "required by California law." Also, the MEC alleges Maron failed to present any facts that show the MEC or Sahlolbei broke any Constitutional rights.

This lawsuit will go to a hearing on Jan. 6, 2014.

Sahlolbei's arraignment in the criminal case brought against him by Riverside County District Attorney's office originally scheduled for Dec. 2 was postponed until Dec. 19 in Indio.

Riverside County D.A. office arrested Sahlolbei at his home Sept. 26. Officers booked him in the Riverside County Jail in Blythe on two charges of conflict of interest, two counts of grand theft, and enhancements of property damage during the commission of a felony and fraud or embezzlement.

He currently remains free on a $600,000 bail.

Click here to download the Maron complaint document (Adobe PDF).

Click here to download the Motion to Dismiss Maron complaint document (Adobe PDF).

Related Stories:
• D.A. re-files all four felony charges against Dr. Sahlolbei
• LETTER: Medical Executive Committee attorney speaks out about Maron lawsuit
• Former hospital CEO, finance director and CNO file federal suits against Healthcare District, President Sartin and board members Hudson and Burton
• Judge dismisses hospital lawsuit
• LETTER: Transport issues and threats led to departure of ER group
• Healthcare District Board drops suit against Sahlolbei
• Healthcare District Board votes 3-2 to fire CEO Peter Klune

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Article comment by: To @ yeah enough already

You said: "The only doctors that left the hospital was the ER group that quit of their own free will."
But you did not say that they where being threatened with peer review!
See Steve Maron vs Sahlolbei and MEC
case documents at:

download the complaint and you will be enlightened!

Posted: Friday, January 10, 2014
Article comment by: lol @phantum nose

You are lost when it comes to knowing who is responsible for spreading BS...So I best inform you of who lies and spreads the bull crap...#1 dr S.#2 BURTON,HUDSON,SARTIN..They lie everytime their mouth opens...

Posted: Friday, January 10, 2014
Article comment by: @phantom nose

U ought 2 know about B.S. U are the expert at spreading it. LOL

Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014
Article comment by: To @ @phantom nose

No just a bunch of Sahlolbei and Sartin BS.

Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014
Article comment by: @ @phantom nose

If patient rights come first and they and family choose helicopter how then can doctors tell them they have to go fixed wings...bunch of BS

Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014
Article comment by: @Phantom Nose

Here is the hole in Dr. Moran's lawsuit: EMTALA which governs the whole mess states that the patient's right come first. It is a judgment call for the hospital and Dr's. EMTALA says the patient MUST be transported by the SAFEST and BEST EQUIPPED, TRAINED AND PROFESSIONAL personnel and transportation equipment available. It mentions NOTHING about SPEED of transportation, only urgency of need to be transported. Who is best in this, fixed wing or rotary?

Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014
Article comment by: @ PHANTOM NOSE:


Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014
Article comment by: Phantom Nose

Regarding the latest filing in the law suit: The PVT has made such things available on its website in the past. I hope the Times will print the latest document filed by Klune, Rutherford and Barth's lawyer. I hope the Times will also make available any response from the defendants. We all should have a chance to read them and make up our own minds.

Posted: Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Article comment by: Concerned Citizen

The PVVT should print the complete document filed today by Rutherford, Klune and Barth's attorney.
It is an eye opener and would give Blythe an insight into what is happening at their Hospital and also why Mr. Sahlolbei was charged with 4 Criminal Counts.

Posted: Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Article comment by: To Phantom Nose

On top of that the Klune, Rutherford and Barth suit update today requests exemplary damages against Sartin, Hudson and Burton.
I heard they claimed they were no longer a part of the lawsuit.
Taken from document filed today.

4. For punitive or exemplary damages, as against the individual
defendants, SARTIN, HUDSON and BURTON, only

Posted: Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Article comment by: Phantom Nose

What is Sahlolbei going to do now that Maron has moved to remove the rest of the members of the MEC from the suit "with prejudice?" Who is he going to get to pay his lawyer bills? I'm betting he tries to get the Board to pay for it. After all, if Maron is right, he was working for the direct benefit of Board member Trina Sartin.

Posted: Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Article comment by: Headless Horseman

"people do their poopy-talk"!! Ummmmm, he said "poopy"!

Posted: Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Article comment by: just me@kixi frti

I won't go as far as to say he is guilty....But I do hope if he is guilty ,the court's will prove it...And I hope if others involved will be penalized as well ....If the new board would not have allowed him so many privileges, the hospital I don't believe would be in this night mare....It's sad, sick, and depressing....

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Article comment by: kixi frti

hi all
we know dr sahlobei is guilty, guilty and guilty. and he trashed people after using them. (deleted). i an sick of this pathetic man. when would he be going to jail. i will celebrate my new year on that day

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. 1. You may not post, upload, or transmit any material or links to material that is libelous, defamatory, false, misleading, obscene, indecent, lewd, pornographic, violent, abusive, threatening, harassing, discriminatory, racist, vulgar, invasive of anotherís privacy, illegal, constitutes hate speech, or harms minors in any way. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence will not be tolerated. Debate, but donít attack. The Palo Verde Valley/Quartzsite Times encourages vibrant discussions and welcomes active debate in its discussion forums. But personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Article comment by: just me@Richard teskey

Do you know how you are laughed at with all this talk you talk....You were Blythe's funniest person when you left here...I can tell you none of us have our Smith and Wesson's loaded....Cold hard truth is, we don't even consider spitting in his you know if his guts were on fire...You and him do have so much in common your both arrogant ...Does the town you live in have 51-50 facility if so you may be should check. it out...You've had issues for years....

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