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February 2020

Gordon & Rees Team Obtains Victory in Take-Nothing Judgment for Client in Multi-Million Dollar Matter in Federal Court

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Dallas Partner Bob Bragalone, Phoenix Partner Steve Lawson and Houston Senior Counsel Steven Selbe obtained a series of summary judgments culminating in a take-nothing judgment for their client in a multi-million dollar matter in Houston federal court. In a hotly-contested matter that included allegations of experimental back surgery methods by a hospital chain that had gone bankrupt, Bragalone led the team in representing a third party benefits administrator for a Federally recognized Native American Tribe of Texas.

The now-defunct hospital, through a bankruptcy trustee, relied on a transcript of a recorded telephone call to allege that a benefits representative had made a negligent misrepresentation to an employee of the hospital that there would be no exclusions or limitations on a $2.2 million back surgery that involved experimental implants which had been developed by the doctor who performed the operation. The surgery reimbursement charges had been declined because of a Tribal plan feature that denied reimbursement to medical facilities that did not take Medicare.

After a targeted but lethal round of discovery was completed, including several very helpful depositions taken by Bragalone, Lawson crafted a comprehensive motion for summary judgment centered on the argument that no misrepresentation had been made in the phone call as confirmed by the deposition testimony of the hospital employee who was on the call. The motion set off a heated series of responses, motions to strike, replies and surreplies.

After a two hour oral argument conducted by Bragalone and Selbe, the motion was taken under advisement. Less than two weeks later, Magistrate Judge Edison, acting on behalf of Judge Hanks, issued a succinct and pithy opinion and recommendation that the motion be granted and that the trustee take nothing.

Robert A. Bragalone
Steven D. Selbe