Whis­tle-blower suits pend­ing

Broward closes sec­ond in­quiry into ex-at­tor­ney

Modern Healthcare - - Regional News - Joe Carl­son

The state at­tor­ney’s of­fice for Broward County, Fla., closed a sec­ond in­ves­ti­ga­tion of a for­mer at­tor­ney for the pub­licly run Broward Health without bring­ing crim­i­nal charges against ei­ther lawyer. Both lawyers still have whis­tle-blower law­suits pend­ing against the sys­tem.

The of­fice had been in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether Joseph Truhe Jr., the for­mer as­so­ciate gen­eral coun­sel for the four-hospi­tal sys­tem based in Fort Laud­erdale, prac­ticed law without a li­cense af­ter he was hired at the sys­tem without be­ing ad­mit­ted to the bar to prac­tice in Florida (Feb. 15, p. 14).

Pros­e­cu­tors closed the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in early March af­ter con­clud­ing that Truhe’s ini­tial em­ploy­ment of­fer clearly in­cluded a re­quire­ment that he sit for the Florida bar exam, which he ap­plied for weeks af­ter he started em­ploy­ment with the sys­tem. Truhe had been a prac­tic­ing at­tor­ney in other states since 1977.

A sim­i­lar set of al­le­ga­tions was lodged against Broward’s for­mer gen­eral coun­sel, Marc Gold­stone, though he was not let off as eas­ily. Gold­stone worked about six months as gen­eral coun­sel un­der the mis­taken be­lief he did not have to be ad­mit­ted to the Florida bar be­cause of an ex­cep­tion to state law that al­lows in-house cor­po­rate coun­sel to work un­der a spe­cial class of law li­cense, ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­nal memo pro­vided by the state at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

It later turned out that the ex­cep­tion does not ap­ply to lawyers at pub­lic or­ga­ni­za­tions such as Broward Health.

Al­though Gold­stone was found not to have pur­posely mis­led his fu­ture em­ploy­ers dur­ing a job in­ter­view, as­sis­tant state’s at­tor­ney David Schul­son wrote that “it de­fies com­mon sense” that Gold­stone would not have dis­cov­ered the prob­lem dur­ing or af­ter his ap­pli­ca­tion process for in-house cor­po­rate coun­sel sta­tus.

Still, Schul­son closed the in­ves­ti­ga­tion without bring­ing charges.

Gold­stone and Truhe have fed­eral whis­tle-blower com­plaints pend­ing against the sys­tem, which al­lege they were fired in re­tal­i­a­tion for their ag­gres­sive han­dling of nu­mer­ous al­le­ga­tions of malfea­sance against the South Florida health sys­tem. Broward Health has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and is fight­ing the law­suits.

Truhe

Gold­stone

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