Originally created 08/17/97

Florida, Louisiana pension funds sue Columbia/HCA

TAMPA, Fla. - Two more state pension funds are suing Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., claiming mismanagement has caused the devaluation of stock in the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain.

The actions follow a shareholders' lawsuit filed last week by New York's public employee pension fund, which owns 2.6 million shares of Columbia.

Florida's public employees pension fund, which owns 9.2 million shares, and the Louisiana teachers' pension fund, filed their lawsuits Friday in U.S. District Court in Nashville, Tenn., according to attorney Walter Baden, who represents the funds.

The value of Columbia's stock has dropped nearly one-third since spring when a federal investigation into allegations of Medicare fraud escalated. Authorities raided Columbia's offices in seven states last month and three Columbia executives were indicted in Florida on Medicare fraud charges.

There was no answer at Columbia's Nashville headquarters Saturday.

Bader told The Tampa Tribune that company officials allowed the fraud to occur, leading to the drop in stock value.

Columbia/HCA's stock closed the week up $1.12 a share at $32.43 in heavy trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares had traded as high as $44.87 earlier this year.


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