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Tri-City claims against Scripps will go to trial

OCEANSIDE — Tri-City Medical’s lawsuit against Scripps Health will head to trial, according to a court ruling March 29.Tri-City sued Scripps for allegedly directing patients from inside the boundaries of Tri-City’s Healthcare District to Scripps’ facilities.In 2009, Scripps acquired Sharp Mission Park, where 65 primary care doctors previously referred most patients through written agreements to Tri-City. After Scripps’ takeover, doctors began sending most patients to Scripps.

In a statement, Tri-City said: “Since Scripps’ acquisition of Sharp Mission Park, Scripps has steered patients living in the District to Scripps facilities in Encinitas, and as far away as Chula Vista, adversely affecting patients and their care.”

However, Scripps offered a statement of its own, saying that, “Tri-City’s lawsuit dates back to 2009, when 65 doctors from Sharp Mission Park decided to join Scripps because they believed it was in the best interest of their patients.”

Scripps tried to force the case into arbitration, rather than in court, based on expired contracts between Scripps and Tri-City. However, The Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld a trial court’s ruling that Tri-City’s claims of anti-competitive conduct and unfair business are not subject to arbitration.

“To the extent Tri-City is pleading that public interest is involved, in terms of fulfilling its mission to provide local residents timely access to health care (under the law, certain) claims would not be arbitrable,” said Judge Richard Huffman, affirming the court ruling.

Scripps’ statement said that the court’s decision only pertained to the type of legal forum and had nothing to do with the merits of the case.