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MRI Group Wins Suit Against Hospital, Again

November 4, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Medical Ethics, Practice Management
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MRI Associates of Boise, Idaho, won a $52 million judgment earlier this week against a hospital that, in the opinion of the jury, violated a partnership agreement with the imaging company.

It’s the second time MRI Associates has won a big jury award from Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center of Boise. A jury in 2007 said MRI Associates deserved more than $63.5 million in damages. A judge later reduced that amount to $36 million, and in 2009 the Idaho Supreme Court sent the case back for a new trial.

MRI Associates, which operates MRI Center of Idaho and MRI Mobile in Boise, would be wise not to start spending its money this time either. Hospital spokeswoman Elizabeth Duncan said:

Saint Alphonsus is obviously very disappointed with the outcome of the October 31 jury verdict. Saint Al’s has remained steadfast throughout in its position since the litigation began in 2007, and of course we will appeal.

She was quoted in the Idaho Press-Tribune newspaper.

Wade Woodard, an attorney for MRI Associates, said a long appeal process could doom the company, according to the Idaho Business Review. It quoted Woodard as saying:

MRI’s barely hanging on. If they don’t get money soon, they’re going out of business.

MRI Associates and Saint Alphonsus had agreed in 1985 to a 30-year partnership, working together to make diagnostic imaging more accessible to the hospital. According to the Idaho Statesman newapaper, radiologists from the Saint Alphonsus Radiology Group would read the scans.

In 1998, a group of the Saint Alphonsus radiologists built their own imaging facility, Intermountain Medical Imaging. In 2001, Saint Alphonsus established a relationship with the non-MRI side of that group. In 2004, Saint Alphonsus told MRI Associates that it was leaving the partnership to partner instead with Intermountain Medical Imaging.

To add economic injury to insult, the hospital then sued MRI Associates for the value of its stake in the partnership. MRI Associates countersued, saying the hospital had breached the terms of the partnership agreement.

Twice now, a jury has sided with MRI Associates. However, the winner in the long run may depend not on which side has the better legal case but rather on which has the deeper pockets.

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