Doctor-founders of non-profit medical clinic are wrongfully terminated. $6 million. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Doctors sue after they are fired by non-doctors who are running non-profit medical clinic.

The Case

  • Case Name: Saied Ibraham Saied, M.D., et al. v. Centro Medico Community Clinic, Inc. et al.
  • Court and Case Number: : Los Angeles Superior Court / BC492856 consolidated with Case No. BC499096
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, February 09, 2017
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, September 27, 2012
  • Type of Action: Employment, Wrongful Termination
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. David L. Minning
  • Plaintiffs:
    Saied Ibraham Saied, M.D.
    Nagy Philips Bebawy, M.D
  • Defendants:
    Centro Medico Community Clinic, Inc.
    Phaniel Rigaud and Celeste Veney (Clinic operators)
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $6,169,140
  • Net Verdict or Award: $6,169,140
  • Economic Damages:

    Saied: $2,176,259

    Bebawy: $1,939,459

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Saied: $517,422

    Bebawy: $1,536,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 4 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3 1/2 hours.
  • Jury Polls: Unanimous on all Issues.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Offices of Timothy D. McGonigle APC by Timothy D. McGonigle, Los Angeles (For Saied)

    Braunstein & Braunstein, PC by Clark Anthony Braunstein and George G. Braunstein, Los Angeles. (For Bebawy)

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Law Offices of Keith A. Kelly by Keith A. Kelly, Riverside.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Carl Cohen, non-profit FQHC Look Alike Clinics. (On the 17200 Claim)

    Julie Platt, CPA. (For wrongful termination trial)

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    In 2002, plaintiffs Dr. Bebawy and Dr. Saied, along with defendant Phaniel Rigaud, opened Centro Medico Community Clinic, Inc. as a nonprofit corporation, with Dr. Bebawy to serve as Medical Director and Rigaud to serve as Chief Executive Officer.

    In obtaining tax exempt status as a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike, the clinic was required to treat all patients, including those who could not pay for treatment. 

    In 2007, plaintiffs' firm Braunstein filed a lawsuit on behalf of Dr. Bebawy against Rigaud and the Clinic for fraud, interference with prospective relations, and declaratory relief. Over the course of several years, Rigaud had taken total control over the clinic, preventing Dr. Bebawy from interviewing or hiring medical personnel, excluding him from Board of Directors meetings and wrongfully barring him from having any financial oversight or control of the clinic. 

    In 2007, the lawsuit was settled on the condition that the defendants correct the problems that were the basis of the 2007 complaint. Defendants breached that agreement and in 2011 Dr. Bebawy filed a second lawsuit for breach of this settlement agreement, as defendants Rigaud and Veney were continuing to operate and manage the clinic without oversight from any other licensed medical doctor.  

    In 2012, Dr. Bebawy reported a number of violations to California Medical Board, Department of Health Services and various health care plans. After reporting these issues, the Clinic and Riguad cut Dr. Bebaway's salary in early 2012 and subsequently terminated him in November 2012. In November 2013, Dr. Bebawy filed the related action for wrongful termination, and Business and Professions Code 17200 Claims against the Clinic, Rigaud and Veney.   

    On September 27, 2012, Dr. Saied filed a related lawsuit against Rigaud, Veney and the Clinic, and reported to the California Medical Board that the clinic was repeatedly overcharging patients by ordering medically unnecessary tests, charging extra for certain necessary services such as blood tests, and adding administrative fees. In response to these actions, in early 2013, Rigaud cut Dr. Saied’s hours in half and began paying him only half his prior salary.  In September 2013, Dr. Saied was fired in retaliation for reporting the clinic’s illegal activities and refusing to drop the complaint.  Thereafter, Saied Amended his complaint to add Wrongful Termination against Public Policy.

    Dr. Saied and Dr. Bebawy's complaints were consolidated for trial and the 17200 Claim was bifurcated as a bench trial on the 17200 Claims and Jury trial on Wrongful Termination of Public Policy Claims. 

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Wrongful termination, retaliation,  and termination in violation of public policy.

Additional Notes

Parties attended multiple mediation sessions but were unable to resolve the issue.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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