Pain clinic, ASC face lawsuit over $1.7M medical equipment debt

Erie, Pa.-based Tri-State Pain Institute is facing several lawsuits related to its finances and claims of a MRSA outbreak in 2017, the Erie-Times News reports.

In the latest lawsuit, filed Nov. 13, TIAA Commercial Finance alleges that Tri-State Pain failed to "make prompt and necessary payments" for medical equipment leased in the two years leading up to the reported outbreak.

Tri-State Pain allegedly owed $1,705,733 as of Sept. 30 and would not surrender the equipment, which includes imaging devices that were originally leased from GE Capital before being assigned to TIAA. TIAA is seeking a judgment against the clinic and immediate repossession of the equipment.

Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are Tri-State Pain founder Joseph M. Thomas, MD, and Greater Erie Surgery Center, which is in the same building as Tri-State. Both are named defendants because they guaranteed Tri-State's leases on the equipment, court documents said.

Additionally, as the Erie-Times News first reported in October, Dr. Thomas and Tri-State Pain are battling seven lawsuits. The claims are related to a MRSA outbreak that affected up to nine patients who were treated at the clinic between Sept. 21 and Sept. 27, 2017.

Patients allege that they required serious interventions, including surgery, to fight the infections, which were confirmed in 2017 by state and county health departments.

Separately, Dr. Thomas faces federal and state tax liens amounting to over $500,000, stemming from income taxes owed in 2016 and 2017.

Dr. Thomas and Tri-State's practice administrator didn't return the Erie-Times News' requests for comment. However, in court, Dr. Thomas and the practice have denied causing the MRSA infections.

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