Michael D. Drobot, the Corona del Mar resident accused in a $500 million kickback scheme involving risky spinal surgeries for injured workers, is adamant that he does not owe the State Compensation Insurance Fund $125 million despite the fund's racketeering lawsuit against him that argues otherwise.
But according to a recent filing by Drobot in the matter, if he is found responsible, 22 doctors, health executives, chiropractors and a lawyer he identifies should be on the hook financially with him.
According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, Drobot's filing essentially suggests that the parties he identified accepted money in exchange for running patients through his surgery suites, pharmacies and MRI machines.
Gina Simons, the State Compensation Insurance Fund's spokeswoman, tells the center that Drobot's filing “essentially ratifies State Fund's allegations”–which are that he created sham contracts with doctors and marketers that were dubbed research, management or option agreements. In reality, the lawsuit says, they were payola accounts to reward doctors for using Drobot's medical firms. Meanwhile, injured workers were used “as pawns to maximize ill-gotten profits,” the fund alleges.
Meanwhile, you may recall this …
Drobot's $50 million suit alleged defamation by attorneys from three firms opposing him in broadcast news reports that had them saying the then CEO of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach directed surgeons to install “counterfeit” screws in “thousands” of spinal-surgery patients.
But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard E. Rico on Thursday dismissed the suit, finding that the three law firms and individual attorneys had a “slam dunk” anti-SLAPP defense. California's law to protect free speech from being quieted by litigation is known as the anti-SLAPP statute.
“That's the whole purpose of the anti-SLAPP statute, to protect people who are talking to reporters, particularly in connection with lawsuits,” Rico said. “It's pretty well a slam dunk.”
The three firms represent a patient who alleges Drobot's then-hospital used cheap, non-sterile screws in her surgeries to support their state compensation collection fraud.
Drobot pleaded guilty in February of last year to government allegations that he paid kickbacks to surgeons for referring patients to Pacific Hospital. He also agreed to testify against state Sen. Ron Calderon and his brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, who face 24 charges, including bribery and money laundering.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.