Public records reflect that Bruce E. Fishman, M.D. was first licensed in California as a physician and Surgeon in 1983. His license was revoked in 1987 based upon his federal conviction of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. In June, 1990, he was granted a probationary license and in 1994 his certificate was reinstated without restriction.
He was the AME in the landmark Almaraz-Guzman decision in 2009, that paved the way for deviations from a strict interpretation of the AMA Guides.
He is also the defendant in a 2018 Qui Tam action brought by Plaintiffs State of California, the Counties of Los Angeles, Kern, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara, the Cities of Los Angeles and Bakersfield, the School Districts of Los Angeles, McFarland, Visalia and Kern, the Health Care District of Tehachapi, ex al. Med-Legal Associates, Inc. and CLCI, Inc., alleging, among other things, a violation of the California Insurance Fraud Prevention Act – Insurance Code § 1871.7
He is also involved in litigation against his former Lien Collection and Med-Legal management company which is the subject of an opinion this month by the California Court of Appeal in the unpublished case of Med-Legal Associates, Inc. v. Fishman.
In 2008, Fishman entered into a relationship with Green Lien Collections, Inc., a company owned by Patrick Nazemi, which provided billing, collection, and enforcement services to medical providers in the workers’ compensation field. In 2011, Nazemi formed Med-Legal Associates, Inc. “with the intent to provide management services to med-legal providers.”
Paragraph 2.d of the Management Services Agreement provides that MLA would assist Fishman in arranging for advertising and marketing services, and that Fishman is responsible for paying the actual cost and expense of all advertising services. The Agreement also contains an arbitration provision.
Dr. Fishman became dissatisfied with MLA’s services, specifically finding that the medical transcribers, physician assistants, and medical researchers were inadequate and underqualified. As a result, Dr. Fishman spent additional, uncompensated time completing work that he expected MLA’s personnel to complete. Moreover, the advertising services were inadequate.
Perhaps more toxic was the fact that the personal relationship between Dr. Fishman and Mr. Nazemi began to erode.Fishman testified that Mr. Nazemi attempted to extort him by threatening to expose an old felony conviction.
in 1983, Dr. Fishman had been convicted of a federal felony related to the practice of medicine during his medical residency in Michigan and had served a federal prison sentence. As a result, Dr. Fishman’s medical license had been revoked in both California and Michigan. Although California ultimately restored Dr. Fishman’s medical license in 1990, Michigan never did.
A consequence of the felony conviction was that Dr. Fishman did not complete his residency in orthopedic surgery and did not obtain board certification in the field of orthopedic surgery. Instead, Dr. Fishman is board-certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine (Occupational Medicine) and carries the initials ‘F.I.C.S[.],’ which stand for Fellow of the International College of Surgeons.
On July 20, 2015, MLA filed with JAMS a petition for arbitration against Fishman for breach of contract and fraud. According to MLA, Dr. Fishman’s failure to disclose the felony conviction prior to entering into the MSA was fraud. Had MLA known that Dr. Fishman was not a board certified orthopedic surgeon, it would never have entered into the MSA or introduced Dr. Fishman to its business contacts. Fishman filed a cross-claim for breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
According to the arbitrator, the parties were contentious throughout the arbitration process. The arbitrator found that MLA failed to prove all requisite elements of its breach of contract and fraud claims, and that MLA breached the MSA by not providing Fishman with adequate staffing and promotional services, as required by the MSA.The arbitrator awarded Fishman $113,400. As the prevailing party, Fishman was entitled to attorney fees and costs. He claimed over $1.2 million in attorney fees and $128,000 in costs. Ultimately, the arbitrator awarded Fishman one-third of what was requested in attorney fees: $418,257.
Acrimonious litigation continued up to the Court of Appeal which affirmed the arbitrators award in the unpublished case of Med-Legal Associates, Inc. v. Fishman. Following the appeal Fishman was awarded attorney fees and costs on appeal.