Menu Close

In 1983, while he was a medical resident, Dr. Bruce E. Fishman was named in a Michigan federal indictment; and he later pled guilty to a single count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. His medical license was revoked in both California and Michigan. After he applied for California reinstatement in 1989, his license was reinstated.

In 2003, Dr. Fishman applied to the Division of Workers’ Compensation to become a QME, and was appointed to be a QME and then reappointed several times thereafter.

In 2008, Dr. Fishman entered into a relationship with Green Lien Collections, Inc., a company owned by Patrick Nazemi. In 2011, Nazemi formed Med-Legal Associates Inc., with the intent to provide management services to med-legal providers. Dr. Fishman entered into a management services agreement with them in November 2012. Thereafter the relationship between them “deteriorated.” At this point, three relevant separate and independent procedural timelines begin: 1) an arbitration between Fishman and Med-Legal; 2) a Qui Tam action against Fishman filed by Nazemi organizations; and 3) the suspension of his QME status by the DWC presumably prompted by a letter send on behalf of Nazemi organizations.

With regard to the first arbitration timeline, after a five-day hearing, in February 2017, the arbitrator issued a final award in favor of Fishman. Med-Legal’s petition to vacate the arbitration award was denied, and judgment was entered in favor of Fishman. Med-Legal appealed, and on March 8, 2019, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment.

With regard to the third timeline involving the suspension of Dr. Fishman’s QME status by the DWC, Dr. Fishman filed a petition for writ of mandate, asking the trial court to set aside the adverse decision. In August 2021, the trial court granted his petition for writ of mandate and set aside the DIR’s suspension order. In so ruling, the trial court found that the DIR “prejudicially abused its discretion by failing to consider all relevant facts in connection with its determination of [Dr. Fishman’s] crime is substantially related to the qualification, functions and duties of a provider of services in the workers’ compensation system. By failing to consider all relevant facts – not just the crime – [the DIR] failed to proceed as required by law.”

The instant appeal concerns the second timeline on the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (IFPA) Qui Tam action against Dr. Fishman. On June 16, 2020, Fishman filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, seeking dismissal of the sole remaining cause of action for violation of the IFPA, which was ultimately granted by the trial court, finding that the sole remaining cause of action was barred by the doctrine collateral estoppel because of the arbitration decision. Attorney fees were awarded to Dr. Fishman in the amount of $197,500.

The trial court concluded its IFPA dismissal ruling with the following observations: “Ultimately, one lesson emerges from a review of the history of this case and the many other cases in which the Relator sought damages from Dr. Fishman: persistence is one thing; persecution is another. Unfortunately, this case goes well beyond persistence into the realm of persecution.” And further added that “It is time to put this sad and pathetic litigation to an end.”

The Court of Appeal reversed the unpublished case of State of California v. Fishman – B307407 (December 2022).

The Opinion commenced by noting “This appeal is just one slice of contentious litigation….” between Nazemi and his entities and Dr. Fishman.

The appeal concerns three issues resulting from the judgment in the underlying qui tam action: (1) The propriety of the trial court’s order granting Fishman’s motion for judgment on the pleadings; (2) Whether the trial court abused its discretion in awarding Fishman attorney fees; and (3) The correctness of the trial court’s order adding Nazemi and GLC Operations as judgment debtors.

“Regarding the arbitration decision, there are at least two elements of collateral estoppel not satisfied. First, it is unclear whether the issue in the qui tam proceeding is the same as the one at issue in the arbitration case.” Thus for this an other reasons, it was concluded that the trial court erroneously granted Fishman’s motion for judgment on the pleadings.

The Court of Appeal concluded the Opinion with this remark, “the appellate record of this appeal and the prior one have the earmarks of malice; it does seem that (1) Nazemi has a personal vendetta against Dr. Fishman, (2) Nazemi is controlling the corporate entities and directing the litigation, and (3) several judicial or quasi-judicial entities that have weighed in on the question of Dr. Fishman’s honesty have determined that, in that particular case, he did not commit fraud. Unfortunately, given the procedural posture of this case and based upon what is presented in this appellate record, we cannot conclude that judgment can be entered at this time.”