- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) - A former hospital executive who has pleaded guilty in the largest medical fraud scheme in state history says he has filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against a group of plaintiff attorneys and 50 unnamed people.

Michael D. Drobot, former CEO at Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, said the attorneys falsely claimed he and the hospital told surgeons to install counterfeit screws in thousands of spinal surgery patients, the Long Beach Press-Telegram (http://bit.ly/1zoM86u ) reported Thursday.

The lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court lists the defendants as attorneys Robert Hutchinson and Brian Kabateck, their law firms and the 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 it 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, 69, of Corona del Mar, was accused by the U.S. attorney’s office of orchestrating a conspiracy from 1997 to 2013 in which tens of millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks were paid to doctors, chiropractors, marketers and others who referred patients to the former Pacific Hospital for spinal surgery.

Drobot pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy and payment of kickbacks. He could face 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in October 2015.

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Information from: Press-Telegram, http://www.presstelegram.com

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