Firm claims Hopkins tried to steal its idea

$60 million lawsuit alleges theft of concept for overseas health clinics

October 16, 2002|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A $60 million lawsuit filed in Baltimore Circuit Court yesterday alleges that Johns Hopkins Health System Corp. tried to steal a concept for opening overseas clinics from a private health care company.

The Baltimore County company, America Overseas Clinics Corp., entered into a contract with Hopkins in 1997 to jointly open and operate four clinics, none of which has opened.

The lawsuit claims that America Overseas brought the idea to Hopkins, and after agreeing to work in tandem, that Hopkins "attempted to usurp and divert the opportunity to Johns Hopkins' sole exclusive benefit."

A spokesman for Hopkins said the lawsuit does not have merit.

"We never formally terminated relations with AOCC," said Hopkins spokesman Gary Stephenson. "We worked on the deal with them and it never reached fruition for a variety of reasons."

Stephenson would not elaborate, saying he did not have a copy of the lawsuit.

America Overseas was created by a group of investors who wanted to open and oversee health clinics abroad, said company lawyer Steven A. Allen.

Once paired with Hopkins, America Overseas planned to open clinics in the Philippines, South Africa, Panama and Azerbaijan, according to the filing.

"The essence of the lawsuit is that AOCC developed a unique and innovative plan to create clinics around the world," Allen said.

"Hopkins recognized the substantial profits that could be made and attempted to take AOCC's idea and proceed without AOCC's involvement," he said.

The lawsuit says that America Overseas was on a path to open a clinic in South Africa near Johannesburg International Airport, when Hopkins "undermined" the plan and "fraudulently" tried to take over the project.

"As a direct result of Defendant's conduct and efforts, AOCC's venture ... did not go forward and the opportunity for AOCC to establish the clinic in South Africa was terminated and lost," it reads.

Hopkins opened a medical clinic in Singapore in 1997, which is not related to the lawsuit.

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