Organization suing member over talks

Thursday, October 19th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A health care provider organization is suing a member hospital and two executives in a quarrel over talks with a competing group.

Tulsa-based CommunityCare Managed Healthcare Plans of Oklahoma recently filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma City-based Mercy Health Center and two top executives.

CommunityCare alleges that the hospital and executives are threatening CommunityCare by planning to join competitor WellCor America.

CommunityCare's ownership is divided among Mercy, St. Anthony's Hospital of Oklahoma City, St. John Health System of Tulsa and St.

Francis Health System of Tulsa.

CommunityCare operates a health maintenance organization, a preferred provider organization, a life and health insurer and a workplace medical plan.

The group alleges that Mercy President Michael Packnett and Chief Financial Officer Steve Mattachione breached Mercy's contract and their duties as group board members by negotiating to take an ownership position in WellCor.

The lawsuit claims that Mercy's plan would cost CommunityCare clients, threaten its license and put operations in Oklahoma City at risk.

"We're aware a suit has been filed and has not been served, so we have no comment," Mercy spokeswoman Lori Boyd said Thursday.

CommunityCare last year entered into merger discussions with WellCor through its principal shareholder, Integris Health.

According to the lawsuit, the talks are continuing.

Earlier this year, CommunityCare learned that Mercy had begun separate negotiations to become a part of the WellCor network.

Mercy representatives then promised to stop discussions with WellCor and work instead on the CommunityCare-WellCor negotiations, the lawsuit says.

"Nonetheless, Mercy and its representatives surreptitiously continued negotiations with WellCor, despite Mercy's agreement and assurances that it would not," alleges the lawsuit, which was filed Friday.

Allegations in the lawsuit include breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, unfair competition, violation of the state trade secrets act and civil conspiracy.

The lawsuit requested an immediate injunction, damages and attorney fees.