Monthly Archives: May 2016

SC Lawyers Weekly: $340K arbitration award for doc who split with business partner

$340K arbitration award for doc who split with business partner

Defendant’s attempt to avoid mandatory arbitration failed

By: Phillip Bantz May 24, 2016

A physician who had a falling out with his business partner has received a nearly $340,000 arbitration award after quashing the defense’s effort to try the case in front of a jury.

The legal dispute between Dr. Rajinder Parmar and Dr. Balbir Minhas arose when the two disagreed over the amount of money that Minhas owed to Parmar after they parted ways. They had been equal owners of Midlands Gastroenterology and Midlands Endoscopy Center as part of a 2011 operating agreement.

In 2014, Minhas exercised his right under the agreement to buy out Parmar for the $350,000 that Parmar had paid three years earlier to become a 50-percent owner of the practices. He also  gave Parmar about $43,000 in interest as part of the agreement.

“My guy [Parmar] really shouldn’t have signed” the operating agreement, said Eric Bland of Bland Richter in Columbia. He said the practices earned nearly $3 million annually.

Parmar was bound by the agreement. But he argued that Minhas also owed him more than $300,000 for his half of the practices’ outstanding accounts receivable, operating accounts and several other assets.

The operating agreement contained a mandatory arbitration provision. But in an attempt to take the case to trial, Minhas and his attorney, Joel Collins of Collins & Lacy in Columbia, argued that the operating agreement was “superseded and invalidated” by the 2014 buyout agreement.

Under the latter agreement, Parmar and Minhas temporarily set aside their fight over splitting the practices’ assets with the understanding that the dispute would be resolved in mediation or arbitration, according to Bland.

Minhas’ original attorney, Edward White of Nelson Mullins in Columbia, had confirmed that understanding in email correspondence with Parmar before he sold off his interest in the practices.

But Minhas later terminated White and hired Collins, who “inexplicably declined to arbitrate the matter and would not agree to accept service of the arbitration complaint,” Bland and his law partner Ronnie Richter of Charleston wrote in a motion asking Richland County Circuit Court Judge DeAndrea Benjamin to compel arbitration.

Collins asserted that Minhas had the right to choose a jury over an arbitrator because the buyout agreement did not contain language that required arbitration. Collins is the past president of the American Board of Trial Advocates, which opposes forced arbitration.

“Our position was that unless you had specifically and expressly waived the right to trial by jury you still have that constitutional right,” Collins said in an interview.

But Benjamin disagreed. She granted Parmar’s motion to compel arbitration, finding that the 2011 operating agreement remained valid, and an arbitrator subsequently awarded Parmar $339,568.

The arbitrator also denied five counterclaims that Minhas brought against Parmar, including one for breach of fiduciary duty alleging that Parmar had overbilled Medicare.

“The only hard evidence of overbilling was one office visit for something less than $100,” Richter said. “The rest was speculation and extrapolation on what the rest of the patient population could look like.”

Minhas self-reported the overbilling allegations to the government based on the findings of an Atlanta-based firm that he had hired to review his office’s Medicare claims, according to Collins.

Now, if the government were to turn its attention to Minhas and accuse him of overbilling Medicare he could not seek indemnity from Parmar, Richter said.

“He’s tried that issue against Parmar to conclusion,” he added.

Follow Phillip Bantz on Twitter @SCLWBantz

COMPEL ARBITRATION – CONTRACT DISPUTE

Amount: $339,568

Case name: Rajinder Parmar v. Balbir Minhas

Court: Richland County Circuit Court

Case No. 2014-CP-40-06017

Judge: DeAndrea Benjamin

Arbitrator: James Kelly

Date of award: May 17

Attorneys for plaintiff: Eric Bland, Ronnie Richter and Scott Mongillo of Bland Richter in Columbia and Charleston

Attorneys for defendant: Joel Collins and Meghan Hall of Collins & Lacy in Columbia

 

Democratic Candidate for Richland County Sheriff instrumental in obtaining justice for Hammond family.

PRESS RELEASE

May 11, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

James Flowers, Democratic Candidate for Richland County Sheriff, instrumental in obtaining justice for the Zachary Hammond family. 

COLUMBIA, SC – COLUMBIA, SC – James Flowers, a former SLED Senior Special Agent and Democratic Candidate for Richland County Sheriff was instrumental in obtaining justice for the Zachary Hammond family.  Zachary Hammond was a 17 year old teen who was shot and killed by Seneca, South Carolina Police Officer Mark Tiller.  Flowers was hired as an expert witness by the family’s attorney Bland Richter, LLP to review the case, including the video of the shooting of Zachary.

“Flowers’ report moved the attorneys for the Seneca Police Department”, says the Hammond family attorney Eric Bland.  “The attorneys were worried after reviewing James’ (Flowers) report.” Bland states that “Flowers’ report was the most detailed and thorough of any of the family’s expert witnesses.”

The strength of Flowers’ report was a significant factor in the case settling for $2,150,000.00. “The in-depth and thorough analysis Flowers provided was persuasive in moving the Seneca Police Departments position so that they settled”, says Bland. “Flowers doesn’t only see it the way of the police but he is objective”, says Bland.

James Flowers is a democratic candidate for Sheriff in Richland County S.C. The primary election is June 14th.

Angie Hammond on Dr. Phil Show

Angie Hammond, the mother of Zachary Hammond, will appear on Dr. Phil Tuesday afternoon.

Last month, the Hammond family and city of Seneca agreed to a $2.15 million settlement in the case.

On Tuesday’s episode of Dr. Phil, Angie Hammond will share the story of what the family went through as they tried to piece together what happened to their son.

That show airs on WLOS 13 at 4 p.m.

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