Citizens agrees to $8 million settlement with cardiologists

Keldy  Ortiz

Dec. 10, 2012 at 6:10 a.m.
Updated Dec. 11, 2012 at 6:11 a.m.

Citizens Medical Center agreed Monday to propose an $8 million settlement in the nearly three-year-long lawsuit involving three Victoria cardiologists.

The hospital reached a proposal in the case involving Drs. Harish Chandna, Ajay Gaalla and Dakshesh Parikh during a two-hour closed session board meeting Monday.

The proposed settlement would require the doctors to resign their privileges working at the hospital. In exchange, the cardiologists would receive $8 million from the hospital, as well as from Chubb insurance, the hospital's insurance carrier.

An official settlement could come in the next few weeks. The deal has not yet been finalized.

In a press release, the board of directors explained the hospital "has authorized our attorneys to proceed with a mediated settlement in a matter which allows Citizens Medical Center to move forward in their business of providing the best medical care possible to our patients in a environment that is most beneficial to our patients, staff and our community."

David Brown, hospital chief executive officer, said he could not comment about the lawsuit. However, during the meeting, Brown called the lawsuit a "traumatic episode," which the hospital could now put behind it.

Citizens' lawyer Kevin Cullen and board members also said they could not comment on pending litigation. The cardiologists' lawyer, Monte James, was not available for comment.

Reaching a settlement before trial is fairly common, said Hilary Young, a lawyer who has been involved in health care law cases.

"It has just taken them time to get through the discovery phase and get a resolution without having to go to trial," Young said. "As they approach trial, they may just negotiate a settlement."

The doctors sued in March 2010 after Citizens revoked their privileges to work at the hospital. The cardiologists claimed racketeering, conspiracy and discrimination. Citizens officials contended in court filings that they acted in the best business interests of the hospital.

The trial is set for Jan. 7 in Victoria County federal court.



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