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home : latest news : regional November 25, 2015

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, 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: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Article comment by: @ kica B

Since when did facts that can be backed up with documentation become slander? Please enlighten us all with what you found to be slanderous. Proof seems to be something Carney and Carlton supporters have trouble producing

Posted: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Article comment by: Just Follow the fraud case

This is the only thing that will save the Hospital!! The docs take 1.8 million in unneeded call and director ships and they are asking for more!!!

Posted: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Article comment by: Kica B

The letter that was sent out over the past weekend is slanderous. Our community is bright enough to see the big picture.

Posted: Sunday, November 4, 2012
Article comment by: Blythe's Entertainer U2CanBeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

@ THE SHADOW KNOWS: This is NOT a CRIMINAL CASE!!!! I get it!!! Inmates sue for a broken cookie, and this Dr, get sued behind BOGUS claims and it makes the NEWSPAPER as news? Really?? I guess every civilian court action (tort) makes a head line in the paper, or was this Dr. given special priviledges? This is simply a BOGUS LAWSUIT and a BOGUS Story!

Posted: Sunday, November 4, 2012
Article comment by: @ @ jere allan

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. Personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Sunday, November 4, 2012
Article comment by: The Shadow knows

To Blythe's Entertainer!
Might I suggest you purchase a dictionary and look up the difference between a civil and criminal lawsuit. The hospital has a civil lawsuit for the (deleted)! The legal issues will follow. The state laws are pretty clear! (deleted)!!!!! He is hoping that the two ladies get on the board so they can make this go away!

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

Posted: Sunday, November 4, 2012
Article comment by: @Jere Allen

IF what you say is actually true re: Board having final say on who gets fired, it is still VERY likely that the cliche would make life hell for him/her. I've been in a situation, and I know of others who have been there, where the gang can make it miserable for the "outsider" so the cliche still has the control and power. Witness the city council cliche who have honed in on Mike Evans. The hospital/council loses, because the gang focuses on their hate for the competition. What a waste. Spoiled kids pretending to be adults.

Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012
Article comment by: Blythe's Entertainer U2CanBeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

BOGUS BOGUS BOGUS!!! NO Arrest, NO Grand Jury, NO Police Report..... NO Story! Why did this story get printed? What is the news value?

Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012
Article comment by: @Just me (deleted)

Ten to One you, the doctor, and the two Ladies did not know about this lawsuit four months ago when they decided to run for the Board to save it from destruction.

Also Ten to One, whoever is on the Board will lose a frivolous lawsuit, and pay him back.

Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012
Article comment by: Jere Allan

To Another Thought: The Bible says to "owe no man anything except to love one another..." I love you, so I am paying on my debt to you. You keep refering to "your clan" as if you aren't part of a clan. You are simply saying your clan is better than mine if I ever had one. Well, "my dog's better than your dog!" LOL. Face facts. No one has ever closed the PVH doors to you. If so who did? You have just as free access as any one else. It is your choice to or not to use it. So don't blame me or any one else for your problems. I have not criticized any board member whether active or not. What I have done is criticized the outrageous salaries we pay management. That would make the "That's Outrageous" pages in Readers Digest! And for the information of all. MEC is NOT the last word on which doctors come here and which ones don't, the Board has final say. MEC can say no, but the Board can override MEC and say yes. MEC can say yes and the Board can say no. But you don't want to hear this, do you? Incidently, I don't know whether I do business with you or not, but I would like to if you offer a service I can use.

Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012
Article comment by: AJ McKay

Funny how people seem to speak for others. Like saying, "some nurses are sick and tired." How about PVVT give a live video interview with the actual people who are saying things. Or give the real people a chance to voice their real opinions instead of people who do not even work at the hospital voicing theirs? And @SHADOW KNOWS, are Blythians really smarter than we think. Prove it please. Because they sure do not show it. Go through town and randomly ask citizens three questions about the hospital situation. Maybe one person out of 100 will get all three right. I put money that not even one person will.

Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012
Article comment by: just me

to all who received some thing in the mail from the hospital staff..Don't believe any of what is written there..I had a conversation with a very reliable source.This that was sent out is subject to a law suit.But the board can make the decision on weather to file or not.(deleted) He wants them on that board so bad l(deleted) Ten to one says if they get on the board .They will not pursue this fraud case and he will continue with his same ole ----.So to all voting for them makes you a part of the hospitals problembs.but thats your choice.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. Personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012
Article comment by: Bobby jo Smith

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. Personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012
Article comment by: The Shadow knows

To perspective thought!
Please re read the article and you will get an answer to your own question! It was discovered in Sept. All these posts about C & C not going puplic to answer questions and the CEO's salary are Hudson & Sartain's way of diverting people away from the suit against Dr. Sahlolbei! Wonder why the good doc has the red & yellow signs removed from his yard? Blythians are smarter than you think! Fraud is fraud!

Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012
Article comment by: another thought

For one thing, Jere will still have his favorite Dr even when he gets kicked off the MEC. The better thing is that the rest of us will be able to use this hospital. (deleted) it is foolish that we can't get a small procedure done at pvh because our Dr is not given permission by his favorite Dr. Wow thanx jere . Your clan is Dr s, Ms hudson and a few select others. You have been very verbal about your support for them over the years. Yes I am angry because it has been 20 years since I have been able to use this hospital - (delete) - yes I could go on and on. Yes some of my customers are drs WHO LEFT BLYTHE!!! There are several who are nurses who are sick and tired of Dr s and his arrogance. (deleted) The town spoke loud and clear when Ms Hudson was voted out. If u really cared about pvh and patients in the community - you would encourage Dr s to ensure ALL local drs are allowed to admit their patients. Then I will be happy. It's really sad that locals born here can't step foot in pvh for treatment because of 1 Dr - that is a shame.
Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. Personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

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