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Columbus Specialty Surgery Ctr. v. Southeastern Ind. Health Org., Inc.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 1, 2014

COLUMBUS SPECIALTY SURGERY CENTER, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
SOUTHEASTERN INDIANA HEALTH ORGANIZATION, INC., Appellee-Defendant, and COLUMBUS REGIONAL HEALTH COLUMBUS REGIONAL HOSPITAL, Appellee-Defendant.

Page 666

APPEAL FROM THE BARTHOLOMEW SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable James D. Worton, Judge. Cause No. 03D01-1309-PL-4793.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: WILLIAM N. RILEY, JOSEPH N. WILLIAMS, Price Waicukauski & Riley, LLC, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE SOUTHEASTERN INDIANA HEALTH ORGANIZATION, INC.: MARK D. GERTH, NICHOLAS W. LEVI, Kightlinger & Gray, LLP, Indianapolis, Indiana.

BRADFORD, Judge. BARNES, J., and BROWN, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 667

BRADFORD, Judge

CASE SUMMARY

On September 3, 2013, Appellant-Plaintiff the Columbus Specialty Surgery Center, LLC (" CSSC" ) filed a complaint alleging that insurance provider the Southeastern Indiana Health Organization, Inc. (" SIHO" ) committed defamation per se by allegedly informing the Seymour Community School Corporation (" SCSC" ) that CSSC had " declined" to participate in SIHO's network. The trial court subsequently dismissed CSSC's defamation claim against SIHO without prejudice after determining that CSSC had failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. We affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The facts, as presented in CSSC's complaint for damages, are as follows: SIHO was founded in 1987 to provide comprehensive insurance services and health plan benefits to businesses. SIHO is privately-owned by Columbus Regional Hospital, Schneck Medical Center, Multi County Physicians, and Bloomington Hospital and Healthcare System. SIHO provides claims administration, pre-certification, case management, concurrent review, utilization review, member services, benefit consulting, national pharmacy networking, and a network of hospitals and physicians in one organization.

CSSC is an ambulatory surgery center providing a full array of surgical services to patients residing in the Columbus area. CSSC is physician-owned. Part of the physician ownership of CSSC is composed of local Columbus physicians.

SCSC uses SIHO as a third-party benefit administrator. On April 2, 2013, the employees received a notification from SCSC's insurance committee that provided as follows:

[CSSC] is an outpatient surgical facility located in Columbus. It is owned by several Columbus area physicians and has been open since August of last year. Up to this point [CSSC] ...

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