A former AMA general counsel is denying charges by the organization's former CEO that he participated in a cover-up of "criminal and fraudulent activity" at the organization.
Michael Ile, the former general counsel and now an executive with UnitedHealthcare in Minnetonka, Minn., denies he covered up the AMA board's role in a licensing agreement or had a direct role in selling AMA property below value.
These are two major allegations in a $5 million lawsuit against the AMA by E. Ratcliffe Anderson Jr., M.D., the former chief executive, who was fired by the AMA board almost two years ago after he filed a $5 million defamation lawsuit against the organization.
Last week, Anderson updated his lawsuit, adding eight new counts against the AMA, including retaliatory firing and destruction of evidence in the form of internal AMA e-mails.
A key allegation in Anderson's lawsuit is that Ile helped the AMA board cover up its role in the AMA's deal to sell endorsements of consumer products to the Sunbeam Corp. in 1997.
The deal was not illegal, but it angered AMA members, and the AMA later rescinded it at a cost of millions of dollars to the organization.
AMA board members have insisted they did not know about the deal, which was carried out by top AMA executives before Anderson arrived at the organization. But Anderson's suit says the board must have known, because plans for the deal were included in material handed out to the board at the time.
Ile, who helped conduct an internal AMA investigation on the Sunbeam deal, concedes that the deal was brought up in board material, but he says this fact was already mentioned in his own investigation. That investigation, however, concluded that the material was placed at the end of a report that board members probably did not read.
"Any allegation of a cover-up of the board's knowledge of Sunbeam is absolutely false and that fact was confirmed by the House of Delegates' independent review," says Ile, referring to yet another investigation of Sunbeam performed for the AMA House of Delegates.
Ile also denies that he had a role in the sale of AMA property, allegedly for as much as $13.5 million below market value. Anderson's lawsuit cites the sale as the reason why the former executive sought to fire Ile. The lawsuit says the AMA board tried to prevent the firing, which led to the filing of the original lawsuit.
But Ile says he simply reviewed legal papers for the sale and any allegation that he was involved in negotiating the sale is "absolutely and demonstrably false."
"I just reviewed the technical legal stuff," he says. "I did not get into financial issues."
Anderson's lawsuit reports that Julian Solotorovsky, a former U.S. attorney whom the former executive hired to investigate the sale, found the legal work for the sale was "amateurish, negligent and arguably malpractice."
The lawsuit suggests that the board agreed to cover up Ile's alleged mistakes in the Block 241 deal as a favor for Ile having helped exonerate the board from any role in the Sunbeam deal. But the lawsuit does not offer any evidence of such a cover-up.
Ile denies there was a link, adding that any further explanation of the deals would cause him to breach his attorney-client privilege with the AMA.
The AMA has also denied Anderson's allegations, issuing a statement just after the amended complaint was filed that the lawsuit is "entirely without merit."