March 29, 2011
LANSING - Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced his office has joined the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) in filing a lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court seeking to close Womancare of Southfield, P.C., a Lathrup Village abortion clinic which has been operating without the required state surgical facility license since last summer.
In the suit, Schuette notes state law requires that private physician offices "in which 50% or more of the patients annually served at the facility undergo an abortion must be licensed...as a freestanding surgical outpatient facility" (MCL 333.20115(2)). According to documentation obtained by MDCH, Womancare of Southfield, P.C. has been operating as a surgical clinic by providing abortions to more than 50% of its patients, even after the clinic's owner, Dr. Alberto Hodari, failed to obtain the clinic's required state surgical facility license. Schuette's suit alleges that the operation of Womancare as a surgical clinic without the proper license violates state law.
"Physicians have special duty to follow state law and regulations intended to preserve the health and safety of their patients," said Schuette.
The lawsuit stems from a 2009 MDCH investigation that found Womancare was violating state fire code rules applying to freestanding surgical outpatient facilities. Instead of bringing the facility into compliance with state surgical facility standards, Hodari let the clinic license expire and said he planned to operate the facility as a gynecological clinic that would not exceed the threshold of surgeries requiring licensing as a freestanding surgical facility. However, information obtained by MDCH showed that Hodari continued to operate the facility as a surgical clinic without a license.
A civil lawsuit is merely an allegation and defendants are not liable until the Court enters a judgment in the case.