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

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10/21/2012 6:06:00 PM
Healthcare District files lawsuit against hospital surgeon, Hossain Sahlolbei
Hospital surgeon Dr. Hossain Sahlolbei
Hospital surgeon Dr. Hossain Sahlolbei

Marty Bachman


BLYTHE - The Palo Verde Healthcare District Board has sued longtime Palo Verde Hospital surgeon Hossain Sahlolbei and his company, Pars Surgery, Inc., accusing them of fraud, unfair and deceptive business practices, breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment among other charges.

The complaint, which readers can examine in full at pvvt.com, alleges that in 2007 or 2008, the hospital was using Certified Nursing Anesthetists to anesthetize patients - but because Sahlolbei would "harass and intimidate" them, it caused the hospital trouble in recruiting and retaining certified staff.

In September 2009, the complaint says, Sahlolbei told hospital officials he could help solve the anesthesia service problem by bringing back a former hospital anesthesiologist, Dr.Brad Barth.

Sahlolbei convinced hospital officials that only he could bring Barth back because of Barth's aversion to hospital administration and that Sahlolbei would be responsible for negotiating the contract terms.

Sahlolbei also demanded that hospital administration have no communication with Barth or the deal would be off.

Hospital officials initially balked at the high salary and relocation costs to retain Barth's services but Sahlolbei assured them the money was reasonable and necessary.

"In addition," the complaint reads, "Defendant Sahlolbei stated that unless the Hospital agreed to the terms demanded by Defendant Sahlolbei, he would shut down the Hospital and cause the entire Medical Staff to stop admitting patients to the Hospital."

Through Sahlolbei, the hospital finally reached terms with Barth, agreeing to a three-year contract that would pay him $24,000 every two weeks, and give him $40,000 in relocation costs. The hospital also agreed to pay Barth $3,000 a month as the medical director of anesthesia services at the hospital.

The Healthcare District Board and Palo Verde Hospital allege that at the time, Sahlolbei had a "secret" written agreement with Barth under which Sahlolbei took $30,000 of the $40,000 relocation money and $400 a day in payments from Barth. The agreement opened Barth to a lawsuit from Sahlolbei if he ever told hospital officials about its existence.

Never disclosing the written contract between Barth and Pars Surgery, Sahlolbei, the suit says, told the board that hiring Barth was in the best interest of the hospital and patient care.

"Simply put, Defendant Sahlolbei's statements were made in a manner to defraud and deceive Plaintiff into not knowing the Defendants were to benefit financially from the Barth Agreements and Dr. Barth¹s return to Blythe," the suit states.

Hospital officials learned of the "the secret contract" when Barth's three-year contract came up for renewal in September 2012 and he told hospital officials he could work for a lot less if he didn't have to pay Sahlolbei.

"Specifically," the complaint says, "Dr. Barth informed Plaintiff that, 'If I did not have to pay so much to Dr. Sahlolbei, I could be paid much less.'"

The complaint alleges that Barth was to deposit with Pars all of the money paid to him and in turn Pars would pay Barth but further in it states that Barth did not turn his checks over to Pars but instead wrote checks to Pars.

The suit also contends that Sahlolbei, through the secret agreement, was granting Barth access to hospital services that he had no independent right to.

"Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that the Secret Agreement is a complete 'sham' and nothing more and nothing less than a fraudulent transaction," the complaint reads.

Hospital officials also believed that Sahlolbei had a fiduciary duty to disclose to them his business relationship with Barth during negotiations and before the parties signed the contracts.

The suit says the hospital suffered $468,000 in damages due to the defendants' "fraud and deceit." It accuses Sahlolbei and Pars of violating the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute, the California Welfare and Institutions Code, which is a California anti-kickback statute applicable to Medi-Cal fraud, and the California Business and Professions Code, which makes it unlawful for a physician to offer rebates, refunds, compensation, etc.

"Plaintiff is entitled to an injunction, both preliminary and permanent, to prevent all current and future acts of illegal kickbacks and rebates to Defendants and to otherwise prevent unfair competition as herein alleged," the complaint reads.

Hospital officials are asking the court for any and all profits Sahlolobei and Pars may have received for any kickbacks received from Barth or any other physician or third party contractor, regardless of whether they are formally in writing.

"Plaintiffs are further entitled to receive an order of an imposition of a constructive trust over all funds received by Defendants, as well as any profits derived from the use of those funds," the suit states.

The suit demands an accounting and audit of Sahlolbei and Pars' books and records from the time Sahlolbei was first credentialed at the hospital, to determine further damages.

In addition to the previously alleged damages, hospital officials are seeking interest and attorney fees.

In an e-mail, Sahlolbei's attorney, Harry Nelson of Fenton Nelson, LLP, said the current Palo Verde Healthcare District board members have acted "maliciously and capriciously" in suing the doctor.

"Dr. Sahlolbei strenuously denies any wrongdoing and will vigorously defend the allegations against him," Nelson said. "It is absurd that the District board members would blame Dr. Sahlolbei for his efforts to improve care at Palo Verde Hospital. Indeed, it appears that the Board is using this lawsuit to retaliate against Dr. Sahlolbei for shining a light on hospital mismanagement over the past two years. The Board is engaging in political theater in a ploy to sway voters just weeks before the elections."

Nelson said it is understandable that the current board members might wish to distract residents from the millions of dollars lost as a result of wasteful spending on the current hospital management (including the nearly $600,000 per year salary of the CEO) as well its failure to invest in "desperately needed" updates to aging hospital equipment.

"Dr. Sahlolbei is confident that the people of Blythe recognize both his tireless dedication to the community as a professional and a volunteer and his refusal to tolerate second-rate healthcare for the convenience of hospital management," Nelson said.

An official response to the suit has not yet been filed. A lawsuit is a series of allegations, which may or may not be true. The final determination is up to a judge or jury when and if the case goes to trial.

Download Download the lawsuit Palo Verde Healthcare District v. Sahlolbei

Download the exhibits in Palo Verde Healthcare District v. Sahlolbei

Related Stories:
• Dr. Hossain Sahlolbei arrested (UPDATED)
• Hospital rehires old ER doctors
• Sahlolbei gets new directorship contract
• GUEST OPINION: Medical staff attorney responds to allegations
• Drop in patients and surgeries pushes hospital to financial brink
• Sahlolbei attorneys file demurrer in response to suit
• Appeals Court grants Montgomery's anti-SLAPP motion
• Doctors drop suit against hospital Board
• Sahlolbei no stranger to courtrooms: Hospital Chief of Staff has sued at least 17 people in Riverside Courts since 2000


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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: @ the beginging

Thanks to Burton, Hudson and Sartin we may never be able to collect what is due to the Hospital.
Time to step down!


Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Article comment by: the beginging

This is where and when it started ...Oh boy the three board members thought they had him secured and this would never be opened up again....How little did they know...(deleted)

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: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Article comment by: Hip, Hip Hooray!

A number of commentors are showing we are alive and kicking here in Blythe! Keep it up, friends, because people must hear a rational side in order to know better what to believe! When you put out enough of that tripe the MEC has been putting out, with no REAL facts to refute it, people begin to believe that poop smells good! Keep it up, folks. And it wouldn't hurt to have the City Council hear that there are some clear-thinking citizens in Blythe who are going to step up to the plate and be heard - anonymously, or not. Love it.

Posted: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Article comment by: just me@just me

Yes I did..The real fun has just begun..I got a message from (deleted) island that a (deleted) strom is on the way.WATCH.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Article comment by: The shaddow knows

To underpaid MEC!
I did not read anything stating that this group of so called caring doctors would give up the directorships ($3000.00 per month). They have their nerve to claim a decrease in the on-call pay when they had decreased patient's admissions and surgeries. The MEC blame the old board members when in fact it was thier non-compliance with the admits/surgeries that played a major factor on why the hospital was not making money!


Posted: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Article comment by: Underpaid MEC

It appears the under paid MEC has sent out another propaganda letter full of falsehoods again. They are willing to give up some of the over 2 million in On-Call and Directorship money if the Administration does.
Not all of the Doctors showed up at last dog and pony show in December.
Three did not show up, wonder why???


Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2013
Article comment by: @Just Me

Did you get another slanderous letter today?

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: just me@the truth

I just want to add to your comment.And (deleted) walks.And that he is full of.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: The Truth

Money Talks!
Ask Burton, Trina and Hudson.


Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: The Human Hemma Roid

This whole thing makes me itch!!

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: From Afar

When did this happen!

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: This will save the Hospital

If you want your Hospital to survive and not be on the worst hospital list push to keep this in court to the conclusion!

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

This like the classical case of a foreman hiring an illegal alien. If you want to work then, you will have to pay me. That is what they are implying if it is true. We will not know until after the court case is over.

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Article comment by: Give this a Twist

Why would the anesthesiologist have to pay Dr. Sahlolbei $400.00 a day to work as an anesthesiologist at PVH? I do not understand why?
What benefit does the anesthesiologist derive from this. If you look at the contract between Dr. Barth and Pars Surgery (Dr. Sahlolbei) you see no benefit derived by the anesthesiologist. Most contracts are two sided Both benefit (one pays the other provides a service). I do not see that in the Pars Surgery contract. Would Dr. Barth have been invited back to PVH by the MEC and given privileges if he had not signed that contract with Pars Surgery?


Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Everyone Concerned

If you care get on the internet, phone and complain. The more people who contact them the better chance we have to can get something done!

Where to file a complaint!

Medical Board complaint form:
www.mbc.ca.gov/forms/07I-61.pdf

California Department of Public Health:
(deleted)
Riverside DA (District Attorneys Office) Complaint form:
http://www.countyofriverside.us/contactus/complaintform.html

Office of the Inspector General Fraud Division:
http://oig.ssa.gov/report-fraud-waste-or-abuse/fraud-waste-and-abuse


Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.


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