SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A Tampa-based medical institute abruptly shut its doors and patients from all over the country are left trying to figure out what's next.

"I was shocked and upset because of the pain I've been experiencing. I was looking forward to the surgery at the same time. I couldn't believe it," said Bill Couch.

Couch was scheduled to have a procedure done next Tuesday at Laser Spine Institute's Scottsdale location. He said he had an appointment on Friday and there was never an inkling that something was off.

"I spoke with the surgeon Friday afternoon. He was reviewing my MRI up on the screen that they had just taken, and nothing was amiss," Couch said. "They sent me on my way with a little tote bag full of information and they said, 'We'll see you next Tuesday.'"

The company laid off more than 500 employees nationwide.

There are also facilities in Ohio, Missouri and Florida.

"It seemed like a very, very legitimate operation but apparently they were in financial trouble," Couch said.

The Associated Press is reporting that a recent court opinion on a 2006 lawsuit may have dimmed the company's financial outlook.

The AP says a group of doctors from a competing surgical center sued the institute's founders for breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, defamation, slander and tortious interference. They won and an appellate court noted in December that the award amount is at least $264 million.

Couch said he would like to hear from Laser Spine Institute about what he should do next.

"Can we start the referral process over? Can we jump start because I already have the test results? Can we narrow it down to a surgeon who might have similar skills here in the Valley and can we fast track a consult with him? Because I'd really like to get this pain relieved," Couch said.

The Laser Spine Institute has not released a statement to Arizona's Family about the closure.

 


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