November 7, 2011
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today filed a lawsuit to permanently dissolve Health Care Clinic, of Delta Township, and the affiliated Women's Choice Clinic, of Saginaw and to enjoin the abortion clinic's owner, Richard Remund, from ever organizing any other company for a similar purpose.
The action comes as the result of an Attorney General investigation into allegations of improper medical records disposal at the clinics. In addition to the lawsuit filed today, Schuette referred evidence uncovered by investigators suggesting possible regulatory violations to the Bureau of Health Systems and the Bureau of Health Professionals, agencies within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
"To ensure accountability and patient safety, Michigan law requires medical facilities to be incorporated with a licensed medical professional at the helm," said Schuette. "Strict enforcement of the law ensures medical clinics cannot put profit ahead of responsible patient care."
"It's widely known that employees at these facilities tossed unborn babies in the trash, so it is not surprising to find more evidence of callous disregard for state laws intended to protect patient safety," said Senator Rick Jones. "I applaud Attorney General Schuette for taking steps to hold these facilities accountable."
"This commonsense enforcement of state law governing medical clinics is long overdue," said Representative Deb Shaughnessy. "No one should be exempt from following laws passed to preserve health, safety and welfare. I thank Attorney General Schuette for working to shut down this clinic and put patient safety first."
Schuette filed the Quo Warranto complaint today in Eaton County Circuit Court, asking the Court to dissolve the Delta Township Health Care Clinic, Inc. and its affiliated Women's Choice Clinic, Inc., located in Saginaw. The complaint also seeks temporary and permanent injunctions to halt clinic operations and prevent the clinic's owner, directors and shareholders from incorporating a similar facility. Schuette notes in the complaint that State law restricts the organization of for-profit corporations that provide medical care services to licensed medical professionals only. The clinics' owner, Richard Remund, is not a licensed medical professional.
In addition to filing today's lawsuit, Schuette made two referrals to state agencies requesting additional investigation to determine if state regulations governing medical facilities and professionals were violated:
Schuette asked the State Bureau of Health Systems to review evidence suggesting that 50% or more of the medical procedures performed at the clinics may be abortions. If that is the case, the clinics must be licensed under the Public Health Code as freestanding surgical outpatient facilities. Such a license would require the facilities to comply with more stringent state regulations to protect patient safety and welfare (MCL 333.20115).
Schuette asked the State Bureau of Health Professions to review evidence suggesting the improper disposal of medical records at the clinics. Disposing of medical records improperly may subject the associated licensed medical professionals to disciplinary measures.
After receiving a complaint in April 2010 documenting the improper disposal of unborn babies with ordinary trash in dumpsters outside the Health Care Clinic in Delta Township, the Attorney General's Office launched an investigation in coordination with the Eaton County Sheriff's Department, Eaton County Prosecutor Jeff Sauter, and the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department. Results of the joint investigation included evidence the clinics were improperly incorporated and may have violated additional state regulations
Due to shortcomings in the law, Representative Jones has since introduced legislation that would create a civil penalty for the improper disposal of fetal remains. Senate Bill 25 establishes requirements for the proper disposal, and SB 54 requires physicians to inform parents that state law mandates them to authorize the final disposition of their baby. Schuette supports the legislation, which has been approved by the Senate and is now before the House for consideration.
A civil lawsuit is merely an allegation and defendants are not liable until the Court enters a judgment in the case.
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