CORRECTION, DEC. 31, 8:05 A.M.: The original version of this story incorrectly reported that two patients alleged Dr. Simon Lavi and Dr. Edward Kolpin had "engaged in a scheme" with Michael Drobot Sr. Actually, the two complaints filed in Los Angeles Superior Court only allege Lavi and Kolpin have been negligent in the care provided to the plaintiffs. The Weekly regrets the error.
Marshall Grossman, whose law firm represents Lavi and Kolpin, writes in an email that, "The doctors are of excellent repute and meet all professional standards" and that they "never had any reason to believe that the implant products utilized were unsafe, defective or non-complaint or wrongfully priced in any respect."
ORIGINAL POST, DEC. 9, 6:32 A.M.: Starting from our earliest headline up through to the most recent before today gives you the best back story on Corona del Mar's Michael D. Drobot:
* Michael D. Drobot-Owned Pacific Hospital and Pharmacy Raided by Feds Suspecting Fraud * Ron Calderon, State Senator, Had His Offices Raided After the FBI Searched Newport Beach and Long Beach Properties of Campaign Donor * Michael D. Drobot Signs Plea Deal to Testify Against Slimed Legislator Ron Calderon * Michael D. Drobot of Pacific Hospital Fame Files $50 mil Defamation Suit Against Lawyers
Now the latest from the massive legal fees generator: Two patients are suing Drobot, his son Michael Drobot Jr., Drs. Simon Lavi and Edward Kolpin, then-Drobot-owned Pacific Hospital Long Beach and Drobot owned International Implants LLC for allegedly being "subjected to ineffective and painful spinal fusion surgeries performed by doctors using defective implant hardware supplied by International Implants at grossly inflated prices."
AgnewBrusavich, a Torrance-based serious personal injury law firm (whose attorneys should be expecting a defamation suit against them any day now based on that last story linked on the opener page), filed two lawsuits on behalf of their clients Frank Gomez and Abraham Pena, the firm announced in a statement.
The suits, which claim Gomez and Pena are still in pain several months after their respective surgeries and that each will likely go under the knife again, allege the Drobots "engaged in a scheme to steer workers' compensation patients" to the hospital and the implant supply company.
Neither patient's workers comp attorney knew about the scheme, which Drobot Sr. admitted to in a plea agreement filed in federal court this past February. His sentencing was continued to Oct. 2, 2015, under the pact that will have Drobot testifying against Calderon, who is alleged to have been paid more than $100,000 in bribes from Drobot to help kill a bill that would have closed a loophole in state law that helped keep the businessman in the chips.
"By owning both Pacific Hospital and International Implants, the Drobot's could collect tremendous markups on the defective products by using a well-known loophole in California's Labor Code Sec. 5318," explains the AgnewBrusavich statement. "The Code requires workers' compensation payors to reimburse hospitals for any implantable medical devices or hardware at the hospital's cost plus 10 percent, not to exceed $250. By owing International Implants, the Drobots took advantage of the Labor Code so they could set their own marked-up price for the medical devices, which would then be passed on by Pacific Hospital and paid by workers' compensation."
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Gomez, who was injured after falling from a service boom while working, underwent a cervical microdiscectomy and spinal implants at Pacific Hospital on Sept. 20, 2013. Pena, who was attacked and assaulted by an inmate while working at a Los Angeles jail, underwent cervical spine surgery, which included a discectomy and disk replacement and had several implant hardware, on Aug. 24, 2012, at the Long Beach hospital.
Bruce Brusavich, an AgnewBrusavich partner, claims in the statement that not only were the prices for the medical devices "grossly marked up," but they "were defective and unsafe" and "failed to meet FDA standards."
Incidentally, a front page Wall Street Journal story from 2012 that hailed Drobot for having built a massive workers comp treatment empire has since been written over in online updates to reflect the fraud case against him.