D.C. high court rejects $18 million award

Nick Rees Oct. 7, 2008, 11:39pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)--A medical malpractice provider suing the Columbia Hospital for Women Medical Center, Inc. for breach of their insurance contract had their claim rejected and an $18 million award for tortious interference claim levied against them.

Columbia Hospital will also receive $220,002 in damages from National Capital Reciprocal Insurance Company, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals has announced.

National Capital Reciprocal Insurance Company and Columbia Hospital entered into a malpractice insurance program known as a "Retrospective Rating Plan," where, if malpractice losses were higher than anticipated, Columbia Hospital would pay NCRIC the difference.

If they were lower, NCRIC would issue a refund. A renegotiation of the plan in 2000 fell apart and NCRIC issued an endorsement stating that it would no longer insure NCRIC-insured physicians at Columbia Hospital.

This announcement led to more than 30 of the hospitals attending physicians leaving the hospital to work at other hospitals where NCRIC would provide them with equivalent insurance coverage at reduced prices. The resulting loss of almost half of the hospital's staff forced the hospital to close in May of 2002.

This, Columbia Hospital says, was in retaliation for Columbia Hospital's resistance to NCRIC's attempts to demand insurance payments it was not contractually entitled to receive that stemmed from the failed renegotiations.

NCRIC claims that the doctors left of their own volition, knowing that Columbia Hospital was on the brink of ceasing operations.

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