Former Hospital CEO Who Pleaded Guilty in Medical Conspiracy Sues for Defamation

Michael Drobot says attorneys falsely claimed he and the hospital told surgeons to install counterfeit screws in spinal surgery patients

A former Long Beach hospital executive who has pleaded guilty in what is considered the largest medical fraud scheme in California history has filed a $50 million lawsuit alleging defamation.

Michael Drobot, former CEO at the now-closed Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, claims attorneys for plaintiffs in a pending lawsuit falsely stated he and the hospital told surgeons to install counterfeit screws in thousands of spinal surgery patients, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported Thursday.

Drobot was charged in February for taking millions of dollars in kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals who received spinal surgeries, and admitted in a plea deal to bribing now-suspended Calif. State Sen. Ron Calderon.

The referrals led to more than $500 million in bills that were fraudulently submitted and paid by California’s worker compensation system, according to prosecutors earlier this year.

The lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court, lists the defendants as attorneys Robert Hutchinson and Brian Kabateck, their law firms and 50 unnamed parties. 

Hutchinson said Drobot is just trying to intimidate attorneys and patients from coming forward in a pending lawsuit against Drobot.

Drobot is "an admitted felon," Hutchinson said. "This raises the issue of how can we defame someone when their own actions have tainted them far worse than any comments. He should know it's not going to work."

In a written statement, Drobot said he didn't initially plan to file a lawsuit but did so because the allegations are malicious and false.

"Not only do they portray me as someone I am not, but they needlessly create incredible anxiety for hundreds of former patients at Pacific Hospital," he said. "We did not compromise patient care."

Drobot could face 10 years in prison for taking when he is sentenced for a year from now.

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