Saturday, October 4, 2003

Kuakini hit with
another lawsuit

2 doctors question issues raised in
previous filings and also claim that
board procedures have not been followed

Another lawsuit has been filed against Kuakini Health System by two of its physicians. The suit was filed in state Circuit Court by Dr. Robert Oishi and Dr. Curtis Takemoto-Gentile.

Oishi, a former board member of Kuakini Medical Center and its parent health system, contends he was improperly removed from the two boards in 2001 after criticizing management practices.

Takemoto-Gentile is a Kuakini Health Systems trustee, Oishi is a former trustee.

The latest action, called a derivative lawsuit, raises many of the issues brought up in the previous suits, but also questions procedures relating to the annual meeting of the trustees of Kuakini Health System.

"The suit is on behalf of Kuakini to correct certain irregularities that we've seen," said attorney Philip Brown, who represents Oishi and Takemoto-Gentile.

Oishi alleges that since filing a previous lawsuit, he has been subject to retaliatory actions, including the termination of a contract to provide surgical training to residents. He also alleges Kuakini failed to make payments on a federal loan he obtained to assist in the formation of a family practice residency program for the facility. Both he and Takemoto-Gentile were involved with that venture, which was subsequently terminated by Kuakini.

The suit also alleges that Kuakini conducted audio and video surveillance of its employees. It asks that Kuakini be forced to cease that practice.

Oishi is a party in two other lawsuits filed in May against the organization. One was filed against a Kuakini subsidiary by a group of physicians relating to the purchase of office suites at Kuakini Office Tower. The other suit, filed by Oishi alone, alleges Kuakini Chief Executive Officer Gary Kajiwara failed to keep the boards informed of significant financial activities and failed to obtain board approval before pursuing new business ventures.

The lawsuits and complaints from a group of Kuakini physicians prompted an investigation of management practices and board conduct at the institution by state Deputy Attorney General Hugh Jones. That investigation is ongoing.

The purpose of Kuakini's Sept. 29 annual meeting was to elect trustees and a board of directors for the health system. The final results of the meeting are unclear. Kuakini spokeswoman Donda Spiker said she could not comment on the trustees' or board of directors' organizational structures since both issues have been raised in the lawsuit.

But the suit contends that a number of the 36 trustees and 12 board members have served longer terms than they are entitled to according to Kuakini's bylaws, which state that trustees and board members may serve a maximum of two consecutive three-year terms.

Further, it alleges the notification sent out prior to the annual meeting indicates 12 trustees would replace 25 of the current 36 trustees, reducing the number of trustees. Terms for the 12 trustees also would be identical, rather than maintaining the previous staggered system.

The suit contends a change in the number of trustees and the move away from staggered terms of service contradicts Kuakini's bylaws. Oishi was one of the trustees named to be replaced.

The suit asks for unspecified damages, and an order that CEO Kajiwara give back salary and benefits paid to him by the medical center and health system. It also asks the court to declare Oishi's previous removal from Kuakini's board of directors and his recent removal as trustee as improper and illegal and asks that the court declare the Sept. 29 election invalid.

No date has been set for a hearing.


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