February 24 2017
Government of Bermuda Suing Lahey, Alleges Bribery of Former Premier
By: Rich Hosford
The Government of Bermuda has filed a federal civil lawsuit against Lahey Health, alleging that the Lahey both bribed and conspired with a former Bermuda leader to gain preferable treatment on the island.
The lawsuit was filed by Bermuda’s Attorney General Trevor Moniz on February 14th in a federal court in Boston.
In the suit the government of Bermuda alleges that leadership at Lahey conspired for nearly two decades with former Bermuda Premier and longstanding member of Bermuda’s Parliament Dr. Ewart Brown.
“Over the course of nearly two decades, Lahey conspired with Brown to design and perpetuate an unlawful enterprise fueled by Lahey’s payment of bribes to Brown disguised as ‘consulting fees,’ the lawsuit reads.
Brown, a doctor with his own clinics in Bermuda, served as a member of Bermuda’s Parliament from 1993 to 2010, holding numerous positions in the government throughout that time. He was Premier from 2006 to 2010. In Bermuda the Premier is the head of the government and is appointed by the Governor of Bermuda on behalf of the British monarch.
The suit says that apart from providing Brown with fees for consulting, Lahey also made political donations that Brown did not report for his campaigns.
In return, the lawsuit alleges, Lahey gained numerous benefits and opportunities for profit from Brown and the government of Bermuda.
“For his part in the scheme, Brown, while serving as Premier and in other high-ranking positions of public trust within the Bermudian Government and thereafter, ensured that Lahey became the overseas healthcare provider of choice for Bermudians [and] directed lucrative healthcare contracts to Lahey.”
It also says that Brown helped Lahey obtain “privileged access” to patients for treatment at both its Massachusetts facilities and in Bermuda itself.
According to the lawsuit, Brown himself had clinics that would perform “unnecessary” MRI and CT scans that would be read and interpreted by Lahey staff members. The fees for the tests were paid by the patient’s insurance or government programs, the lawsuit says. The Government of Bermuda said both Lahey and Brown made millions of dollars with these unneeded tests at the same time harming patients both psychologically by unnecessarily subjecting them to the fear that comes with medical testing and potentially physically by having them take tests that involve radiation that they did not need.
The lawsuit says that Bermuda now has among the highest users of MRI and CT scans in the world. It also alleges that, under Brown, the cost of those tests rose in the country.
At the time of this publication calls to Lahey’s communication department had not been returned though a representative did speak to the Boston Business Journal for a February 14 piece on the lawsuit. In that interview hospital spokesman Christopher Murphy said he was confident that the suit lacked merit. He also said that Lahey provides “high quality care” to Bermuda residents at a “lower cost than other international health care providers on the island.” He added that Lahey Hospital & Medical Center will defend itself through each step in the legal process.
The lawsuit does not state exact damages being sought but the “Prayers for Relief” section states the Government of Bermuda is looking for “three times the damages Plaintiff has sustained” and attorney fees.