A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Dr. Gioacchino De Chirico, president/CEO of Immucor (Norcross, Georgia), has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $30,000 in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company is not being required to pay a penalty.

The settlement relates to the SEC's investigation of activities involving the company's Italian subsidiary, without Immucor either admitting or denying wrongdoing. It consented to the entry of a cease and desist order from future violations. De Chirico did not admit to or deny any wrongdoing.

In an unrelated development, Immucor said that on Sept. 26, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted final approval of the settlement of the previously-disclosed class action lawsuit entitled In re Immucor, Inc. Securities Litigation, filed in 2005.

Under the previously reported settlement, the company's insurance carrier will pay $2.5 million to the plaintiff class in consideration of the release of all claims against the company and individual defendants. Immucor said that its only costs were certain legal defense expenses.

The company said that the action concludes its involvement in this litigation and terminates the claims asserted by all class members.

Immucor manufactures reagents and systems used by hospitals, reference laboratories and donor centers to detect and identify certain properties of the cell and serum components of blood prior to transfusion. The company markets a family of automated instrumentation for all of its market segments.
In other court-related action, the SEC last week reported that it has filed suit against Stanley Johnson of Fullerton, California, and two entities he controls for fraudulent misuse of more than $3 million in investor monies raised from their unregistered offering of limited partnership units.

The commission alleges that since mid-2004, Johnson, Advanced Body Imaging and Consulting Dynamics have solicited investors with promises of opening a medical diagnostic facility in Southern California that would generate full return on their invested money within one year and return five times their investment when the company went public within two years. The complaint alleges that the defendants misappropriated investor funds to pay for telemarketing lead lists, commissions to Johnson and his sales agents, rent for telemarketing office space, and otherwise to fund the solicitation of investors.

It alleges further that although the defendants opened a facility in Laguna Hills in late 2006, it was only a shell and the defendants' misused investor monies and that the facility "quickly fell behind on its rent and equipment leasing obligations."

The complaint alleges that Johnson, Consulting Dynamics and Advance Body Imaging violated securities registration and anti-fraud statutes and that Johnson and Consulting Dynamics violated broker-dealer registration requirements.

The commission is seeking an order that permanently enjoins the defendants from violating the provisions, and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, additional interest and civil penalties.

The SEC also seeks disgorgement of proceeds of the fraud held by Johnson's wife, Easter Turnipseed-Johnson, who was named as a relief defendant and not charged with any violation.

SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West and SEIU Local 121RN are seeking an injunction to stop Tenet Healthcare (Dallas) from cutting health benefits for nearly 7,000 California hospital employees, including registered nurses, pharmacists, licensed vocational nurses, respiratory-care practitioners, radiology technicians, surgical technicians and certified nursing assistants.

Workers represented by the two unions have been in negotiations with Tenet for nearly a year. In June, Tenet and the workers reached an agreement on maintaining all health benefits and costs. Last week, however, the unions said that Tenet changed its position, reporting a plan to cut benefits beginning in November, during the open enrollment period with PacifiCare, which administers the company's health plan.

The unions have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against 14 California hospitals and Tenet for failure to bargain over changes to the health plan.

"This is the ultimate measure of disrespect that Tenet has shown its dedicated employees," said Ranell Ross of Doctors Hospital of Manteca, one of the hospitals involved in the lawsuit. "Despite Tenet's multiple problems and failures in turning around this troubled corporation, their employees have been there each and every day delivering the best care possible under severe circumstances. Cutting back on employees' healthcare is about as low as this corporation can go."

SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West and SEIU Local 121RN report representing more than 150,000 California healthcare workers.