A two-hospital subsidiary of HCA in El Paso, Texas, late last month was ordered by a jury to pay a local physician $4.5 million in damages plus lawyers fees for fraud and breach of contract.
El Paso Healthcare System and its parent, then-Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., had agreed to support the practice of Armando Beltran, M.D., and provide first-year income guarantees of $200,000 to $250,000 for 25 physicians whom Beltran would recruit, according to an attorney for the physician. When Beltran refused to direct all of his practice's patients to HCA hospitals, El Paso Healthcare and HCA withdrew the financial support, leaving him in debt.
A state civil trial jury in El Paso found that the subsidiary had committed fraud and breached its contract with Beltran. HCA was found guilty of breaching its contract but not guilty of fraud.
Joseph Hood Jr., an attorney representing HCA's hospitals, said the subsidiary and HCA likely will appeal the verdict if it is not reduced by the court order, which has yet to be entered.