Settlement in Halifax Health whistle-blower case could be finalized

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. —

Settlement in Halifax Health whistle-blower case could be finalized

A settlement could be finalized Monday in the whistle-blower case against Halifax Health.

Channel 9 has been following every development in the case that accuses the hospital of giving doctors illegal kickbacks, which led to unnecessary surgeries.

WFTV's Lori Brown spoke with a patient Monday who believes he received an unnecessary surgery that's left him partially paralyzed.

But as the second half of the huge whistle-blower case comes to a close, patients feel like they are getting little justice.

Darrell Hunter said he went to Dr. Federico Vinas for back pain. But he said the doctor's spinal fusion left him in far worse shape.

"I woke up from the surgery completely paralyzed from the hip down on the left side," said Hunter.

When Hunter saw another patient of Vinas on Channel 9, he said he realized he wasn't alone.

"From running around to not being able to walk," is how Eunice Murphy described her surgery.

According to a study in court records, Vinas performed unnecessary surgeries on nine out of 10 of his patients, but he's still working at the hospital, which claimed the study was biased.     

The first half of the suit, which ended in an $85 million settlement, accused the hospital of giving doctors illegal kickbacks based on the number of surgeries they performed.

"He's not looking at you as a patient, he's making money," said Hunter.

But despite one of the largest lawsuits settlements ever of this kind, patients like Hunter feel like fighting the hospital on their own is like David going after Goliath, said Brown.

The hospital has spent $24.3 million defending itself, paying one law firm $350,000 every month for four years.

"I hurt. What can I do?" said Hunter.

For Murphy, the statute of limitations ran out before she ever learned of the allegations against Vinas.

"You've ruined my life," she said.

The Halifax Board of Directors is meeting about the lawsuit on Monday.