Wheeling Hospital files lawsuit against former VP

WHEELING — Wheeling Hospital announced Monday it has filed a federal lawsuit against Louis Longo, the hospital’s former executive vice president, for breach of fiduciary duty and abuse of process.

The civil lawsuit was filed last week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

The hospital’s complaint alleges that Longo filed false claims against the institution hoping to obtain a quick and plentiful settlement. Longo’s charges resulted in a whistleblower lawsuit against the hospital, which the federal government announced it was joining in December.

Wheeling Hospital has characterized Longo’s lawsuit as baseless.

“As a Catholic hospital, we expect every member of our staff, as well as our partners, to conduct themselves with honor and integrity,” said Bruce Archer, general counsel for Wheeling Hospital. “We are pursuing action against Mr. Longo for his purported dishonest conduct, and we will vigorously defend our hospital and physicians against the fraudulent claims he filed against us.”

Longo’s lawsuit alleges that Wheeling Hospital improperly paid millions in kickbacks to doctors, and that the hospital provided compensation to a number of employed and contracted physicians that was well above fair market value in order to gain referrals.

Longo initially worked for Wheeling Hospital as a partner and director with Deloitte, as the firm was contracted to handle audit and compliance matters.

Wheeling Hospital in November 2011 hired Longo as an executive, overseeing hospital operations and physician engagements, according to Wheeling Hospital’s lawsuit.

The hospital, in its lawsuit, noted Longo “was responsible for identifying risks of fraud and reporting the existence of fraud and/or the risk of fraud to the Board of Directors of Wheeling Hospital” as part of the contract with Deloitte.

“At no time … did (Longo) ever express to Wheeling Hospital that Deloitte’s audit activities had identified fraud or the risk of fraud with respect to Wheeling Hospital’s physician contracts,” the lawsuit states.

The hospital’s lawsuit also alleges that “at no time during his employment (with Wheeling Hospital) did Longo report any concerns or suspicions of fraud or violations of federal law or regulations to the Audit Committee of Wheeling Hospital’s Board of Directors …”

“Our mission at Wheeling Hospital is plain and simple: to provide compassionate care and promote the well-being of our community,” Archer added.