Court rules in favor of Drobot, hospitals in “counterfeit’’ screw cases

LOS ANGELES – (March 5, 2015) - Michael D. Drobot and Pacific Hospital of Long Beach secured a recent Superior Court ruling that threw out the inflated conspiracy claims against a group of Southern California hospitals and physicians accused of using “counterfeit’’ surgical screws on patients.


On Feb. 20, 2015, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Hon. Elihu M. Berle upheld challenges from lawyers representing five different hospitals and a number of doctors, as well as Drobot and Pacific Hospital of Long Beach.


The court lambasted plaintiffs’ counsel for asserting dozens of claims against Drobot and Pacific Hospital of Long Beach notwithstanding the fact that 29 of the 32 plaintiffs in the related cases never received treatment from Drobot or Pacific Hospital of Long Beach.


At a hearing on the matter, Judge Berle said “How can the demurring defendants defraud an insurance company for a surgery they did not bill for? A surgery that did not occur at their facility?” The court held that plaintiffs’ counsel “misapplied” the law in their complaints and “senselessly grafted the wrong conspiracy [law] here....”


Judge Berle said the plaintiffs did not allege facts sufficient to proceed with these “conspiracy” and related claims: “the plaintiffs are bereft of any allegations that the demurring hospitals share a common plan or agreed to perpetrate a battery, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, or infliction of emotion distress on surgical patients at other hospitals.’’ The court further held that it was impossible for plaintiffs to allege any such “conspiracy” claims given other self-defeating facts alleged in their complaints.


This decision struck at the very heart of the heavily-publicized claims of an alleged grand conspiracy of medical device suppliers, hospitals, and physicians to make, sell and use “fake’’ spinal implants.  The claims were made last year by plaintiff’s lawyers from the firms of Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy, Kabateck Brown Kellner and Knox Ricksen. Although Judge Berle ruled on Feb. 20 with respect to only three plaintiffs’ claims against Drobot and Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, the ruling puts the bulk of claims asserted in their other 29 pending cases in immediate jeopardy.


In October 2014, Drobot and Pacific Hospital of Long Beach filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against the trio of law firms. In the pending action, he alleges that the attorneys defamed him and his company on television and radio by among other things, falsely accusing him and Pacific Hospital of Long Beach of conspiring with others to install “counterfeit” spinal implants in Pacific Hospital of Long Beach’s patients.

Drobot’s lawsuit is not the only complaint against plaintiff’s firm Knox Ricksen. In February, Knox Ricksen was sued by competing law firm Reyes & Barsoum for allegedly hacking into the firm’s computer network to steal thousands of confidential and attorney-client privileged documents. That case also is pending.