Former Officer of Cancer & Hematology Medical Practice Must Pay Punitive Damages for “Malice, Oppression and Fraud”
FRESNO, Calif. – A jury in a civil trial in Fresno Superior Court has decided that a local doctor, Michael J. Moffett, should pay more than $1.4 million to California Cancer Associates for Research & Excellence, Inc. (cCARE). cCARE had contended that Moffett misused funds as CEO and attempted to damage cCARE by negotiating a secret deal with a competitive medical practice while still an employee/shareholder.
Moffett resigned from cCARE in 2013 and later filed a lawsuit claiming that he was forced out of the medical practice. In response, cCARE claimed that Moffett paid himself improper compensation and expense reimbursements and later tried to cover his actions by destroying records.
The jury awarded $1,246,559 in damages to cCARE against Moffett, plus another $200,000 in punitive damages, finding that he and Maria Madrigal Shaffer, his chief administrator, “acted with malice, oppression and fraud in conscious disregard of [cCARE’s] rights.”
The jury also found that Moffett and Shaffer had committed “fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and/or breach of duty of loyalty” and awarded cCARE an additional $25,000 in damages and $10,000 in punitive damages against Shaffer.
The jury verdict follows a judge’s earlier decision that cCARE owed Moffett more than $1 million for his stock ownership in cCARE and for unpaid deferred compensation. However, in seven points of contention listed in the verdict, the judge gave five to the jury to decide and ruled on two himself. While the judge found in Moffett’s favor in the two, the jury decided for cCARE in all five of the remaining issues.
“We’re obviously delighted that after the jury heard all the evidence, they ruled in our favor on every one of the issues which were left to them to decide,” said Troy Simon, current CEO of cCARE. “This result validates our primary value of putting the care of our patients over the individual interests of any one person in our organization.”
Moffett initiated action by filing a lawsuit against cCARE, who responded by filing a counter-claim. The trial started the last week of January and concluded February 23.
California Cancer Associates for Research and Excellence, cCARE, is the largest full-service private oncology practice in California. cCARE delivers the highest quality medical oncology, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, supplemented by a large research and clinical trials program. With 10 offices in the San Diego and Fresno areas, patients receive thorough, compassionate and convenient treatment, no matter where they call home.