The University of Southern California said it has filed a lawsuit seeking to force a subsidiary of Tenet Healthcare Corp., Dallas, to give up ownership and control of 269-bed USC University Hospital, Los Angeles, after more than 20 years of partnership. The lawsuit alleges that Tenet's reputation has been tarnished by various lawsuits and investigations of the company over the past four years, and that the monetary settlements Tenet has agreed to pay to resolve those legal problems have sapped the company's financial strength. USC contends that these events have substantially altered Tenet's ability to operate the hospital, which is grounds for terminating the agreement and forcing Tenet to give up its ownership interest. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks a permanent injunction to put USC's claim into effect and give it clear title to the hospital and grounds. USC also seeks reimbursement for lawyers' fees and court costs.
Tenet spokesman Steve Campanini said in a statement that the lawsuit "appears to be an unfortunate negotiating tactic better left to the arbitration provisions in our agreement. Tenet has made significant capital investments in USC University Hospital over the years." That includes a $150 million, 10-story patient-care tower scheduled to open in a few months, Campanini said. Tenet's predecessor company, National Medical Enterprises, signed an agreement with USC in 1985 to build the hospital, and the facility opened in 1991, according to the lawsuit.