Judge: No Conflict of Interest for Cardiology Practice to Own Fast Food Franchises

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5th circuit court appellate judge, Courtney Mills, ruled in favor of Riverside Cardiology Associates, PC in the case of Delaney at el vs Riverside Cardiology Associates, a class action lawsuit among approximately 4,000 residents of East Camden, NJ.

51245936_mThe plaintiffs argue that Riverside Cardiology has inconspicuously and strategically operated 8 McDonald’s franchises and 4 Taco Bell franchises in Camden, intentionally marketing fast food for patients in and around their medical offices.

The premise of the civil lawsuit is that the physicians knowingly initiated and accelerated heart disease in the whole population of East Camden.

Baker and Fielding cited that these franchises have shared commercial and professional space to lower overhead capital costs; but, also are marketing fast foods to patients and families during their physician office visits. Any children or grandchildren are especially being encouraged to use office play areas and grab a happy meal before, after, or during their parents’ visits.

Unusual aspects of Riverside Cardiology’s 4 office site include: (1) medical office decoration including Ronald McDonald’s figures or Taco Bell menu item posters; (2) common entrances and unlocked glass door entryways between doctor’s offices and McDonald’s/Taco Bells; and (3) coupons for fast food and junk foods attached to “after visit instructions” as well as Christmas Cards from the cardiology practice.

Carina Engel, a 25 year old female Camden resident and member of the lawsuit, remembers Dr. Toney Mitchell encouraging her to play at the McDonald’s after her grandpa’s visit for hypertension when she was only 5 years old. She is one of the unusually young heart disease patients in here in Camden, NJ. Dr. Pardey Das placed a coronary stent in her after she had a mild heart attack at age 23. Miss Engel shares “I remember visiting with grandpa and Dr. Mitchell would usually usher us over the McDonald’s next door and sometimes discuss medical issues and surgical options after he bought us double cheeseburgers… Those cheeseburgers are like crack.”

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