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Firm files 3rd suit against Monsour weight-loss clinics

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By Richard Gazarik
Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

A chain of weight-loss centers owned by the late Dr. Robert Monsour are the subject of protracted litigation in Westmoreland County involving alleged broken contracts and accusations of IRS violations.

Ripepi Management Co. LLC of Pittsburgh, which manages medical practices, filed a third amended lawsuit on Wednesday against the estate of Monsour, his sons, doctors Roy and Geoff Monsour, and RJM Medical Management, alleging breach of contract and tortuous interference of a contractual relationship over the administration of Dr. Bob Weight Loss Centers.

The business has clinics in Westmoreland, Indiana, Cambria, Centre, Fayette, Somerset, Blair and Butler counties.

Ripepi Management, which is operated by Dr. Philip Ripepi and William Henry, said it was asked to assume management of the clinics because they were losing money, despite having a heavy volume of business, according to the suit.

But Monsour attorneys contend the business was profitable and Ripepi was retained to perform limited administrative functions.

The legal wrangling started in 2010 when the initial lawsuit was filed. The case has been characterized by motions for sanctions and contempt of court for allegedly attempting to block the deposition of a Greensburg tax attorney who represented the weight-loss company.

According to the suit, attorney Dominic Ciarimboli of Greensburg asked Ripepi to contact the Monsours about running the clinics.

Ripepi contends the two sides reached a “binding oral agreement,” according to court documents.

One deal was for five years, the other for three, the suit says. According to the terms of the agreement, the late Dr. Robert Monsour would receive the first $275,000 of net income while the next $100,000 would go to Ripepi Management. Any money beyond that would be split evenly, the suit says.

Dr. Roy Monsour persuaded his 97-year-old father's caretaker to stop him from signing the contract, the suit says, because Monsour was infirm at the time and required around-the-clock care.

After that, Ripepi contends, Roy Monsour appointed himself president of the company and oversaw the day-to-day operations, according to the suit.

Ripepi attorneys contend that when the Monsours asked Ripepi to use corporate money to pay the personal expenses of Dr. Robert Monsour, Ripepi refused, saying that would violate IRS laws.

Ripepi alleges the Monsours broke the agreement in retaliation for that refusal, according to the lawsuit.

Monsour attorneys argued that Ripepi was hired on a month-to-month basis to handle accounting and business functions as a result of the loss of several employees.

They denied that Roy Monsour was involved in the business operation. In addition, they denied the company was being mismanaged and contended that it was profitable.

Dr. Bob Weight Loss Centers bills the company as the oldest weight-loss program in the state.

It was founded in 1948, according to the company's website, and provides food supplements, drugs, nutritional counseling, exercise and support programs for its patients.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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