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St. John's in court fight over failed nurse recruitment effort

The Santa Monica hospital paid a recruiter in England nearly $700,000, but no nurses ever arrived. The hospital says it was the victim of fraud and bribery.

January 25, 2013|By Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times

Stateside wired Melendez $51,843 in February 2007 and sent him an additional $51,943 the next month, according to the hospital's lawsuit. Those wire transfers took place shortly after Melendez authorized two payments of $52,000 apiece to Stateside. Later in 2007, Taylor wrote him another check, for $25,000. Taylor and Melendez don't dispute those payments.

In October 2010, an arbitrator found that Stateside engaged in "unlawful and fraudulent business practices" by paying Melendez to gain improper advantages in its contracts. The arbitrator awarded the hospital $1 million in damages, interest and legal fees.

Stateside went through liquidation in England, Taylor said, and she couldn't defend herself at the arbitration hearing. The hospital hasn't collected any portion of the arbitration award since her company shut down.

Taylor said she had satisfied her obligations by finding the nurses and getting them licensed to work at St. John's. The U.S. had adopted a policy in 2006 that made it more difficult for some foreign nurses to obtain work visas. St. John's said in its suit that Taylor misrepresented that she could handle those immigration issues.

"We got the nurses as far as we could get them when the U.S. government ran out of visa numbers," said Taylor, 47, who now lives in Colorado. "I'm looking forward to telling my story at trial."

chad.terhune@latimes.com

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