Aultman Health Foundation has paid rival Mercy Medical Center $14.7 million, putting to rest a contentious, six-year legal battle between Stark County’s largest hospital systems.
Aultman paid the $6.1 million in damages awarded for unfair business practices at the end of a 2010 trial, according to a filing last week in Stark County Common Pleas Court.
Aultman also provided Mercy court-ordered attorney fees of $4 million, as well as interest incurred on the award since 2010, according to Mercy’s attorney, Lee Plakas.
The case centered on “secret” bonuses paid to select brokers for switching employers from other insurance plans to Aultman’s insurance company, AultCare.
Aultman Hospital is AultCare’s only in-network hospital in Canton.
At the end of the two-month trial, jurors decided Aultman should pay Mercy the damages for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity by influencing brokers with money. Jurors sided with Aultman on five other counts.
Aultman had been appealing the verdict and damages. But the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed Aultman’s appeal in March.
“Aultman has made payment to Mercy, and Mercy considers this matter resolved,” the hospital said in a prepared statement through its attorney. “Mercy Medical Center is satisfied with this result, and it looks forward to continuing its mission through Stark County and the surrounding areas.”
Mercy received the funds from Aultman on June 7, according to Plakas.
Aultman attorney Allen Schulman said in a prepared statement that the health system “is pleased that this matter has been fully resolved.
“We respect the legal system from trial court to Supreme Court,” he said. “At all times during this protracted litigation, we firmly believed that the case required a vigorous defense and then an aggressive appeal after the verdict because regulatory bodies such as the Ohio Department of Insurance found no violations of any kind in connection with the program. Our goal now, as it was and will remain, is to provide our community with the highest-quality health care at the most affordable price.”
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or email@example.com. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.