On March 17, 1995, Rick Scott was deposed by attorney John T. Cusack in an anti-trust case filed against Columbia/HCA by Orlando Regional Healthcare System, which lost the suit against Columbia/HCA but prevailed against another party. Here are excerpts from that deposition:
Cusack: What is your position, sir?
Scott: I'm the president and chief executive officer of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation.
Cusack: Well, the predecessor company was Columbia Hospital Corporation, is that correct sir?
Scott (after an objection from his attorney): I don't know what you mean by 'predecessor.'
Cusack: Is it fair to say that, under your aegis, Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation has grown to be the largest hospital chain in the free world and in the United States?
Scott (after objections from attorneys): What do you mean by chain?
Cusack: A corporation owning a number of hospitals.
Scott: Could you repeat the question again? What do you mean by aegis?
Cusack: Under your direction.
Scott: My belief is… we're the biggest.
Cusack: What's the average occupancy rate in your hospitals?
Scott: I don't know… I would have to guess.
Cusack: Have inpatient visits declined?
Scott: For what time period?
Cusack: The last two years.
Scott: It depends on the quarter.
Cusack: But taken as a total, have you seen a decline?
Scott: For what time period?
Cusack: Over the last two years.
Scott: I'm not sure I understand the question.
Cusack: Are in patient admissions up or down?
Scott: I would have to go look at some numbers.
Cusack: You just don't know. Is that right?
Scott: No. I don't know based on the way you asked the question.
Cusack: Would you agree that there is some serious over-capacity in the hospital industry?
Scott (amid attorney objections): What's your definition of 'over-capacity?' ... I'm just not sure what serious over-capacity is…
Cusack; You just don't know, is that right?
Scott: I'm not sure I understand the terminology.
Cusack: Didn't you practice corporate hospital law, sir?
Scott (after objection from attorney): Corporate hospital law. I don't know what your definition of corporate hospital law would be.
Cusack: Is Orlando a significant market for your company?
Scott (after attorney objects): I'm not sure what a 'market' is.
Cusack: You don't know what a market is?
Scott (amid attorney objections): You're asking for a legal definition?
Cusack: Have you ever told anyone or showed anyone a document that said Orlando was one of Columbia/HCA Corporation's significant markets?
Scott: I… I don't know.
Cusack (Regarding a Columbia press release quoting Scott): Have I read those paragraphs correctly, sir?
Scott: I didn't listen that close.
Cusack: Is the press release an accurate quote?
Scott: I.. I don't know.
On Jan. 16, 1997, Rick Scott was deposed by attorney Jack Ayers in a case filed by Dr. Lee Schlichtmeier against his former partner, Dr. Ambrose Aboud, and Columbia/HCA for interfering in their partnership. Schlichtmeier won a $6.4 million judgment. Here are excerpts from that deposition:
Ayers: You are an attorney, so you understand what a deposition is, do you not?
Scott: Well, first off, I'm not — I was licensed as a lawyer, but there's some — I was in Texas, and there's some — if you don't continue to practice, so I'm not sure — I don't know if anybody knows how it works.
Ayers: Do you know what a deposition is?
Scott: I've been through depositions.
Ayers: Do you understand generally what this lawsuit concerns?
Ayers You do not?
Ayers: Do you know why or what Mr. Schlictmeier claimed in his lawsuit?
Scott: No, I do not…. I know that there's a lawsuit and I know there's a dispute.
Ayers (regarding a letter on Columbia stationary written July 15, 1991): Do you recall that letter?
Ayers: Do you recall having written it?
Ayers: Is that your signature?
Scott: It looks like it.
Ayers: Have I asked any questions that tricked you or confused you?
Scott: You might have. I don't know.
Ayers: Assume that you have two doctors that are partners who are in the process of trying to build a cancer center for the account of a partnership in El Paso, Texas. And a third person approaches one of the partners and offers them (sic) inducements or considerations which are detrimental to the partnership. Is that proper or improper?
Scott: I think the question's confusing… I mean, just because you give — somebody offers somebody an opportunity to do business with somebody and it has a detrimental impact on somebody else, doesn't mean there's anything wrong with that.
Ayers: Mr. Scott, isn't your understanding of this subject a good deal more detailed and your knowledge a lot deeper than that? The subject of fiduciary responsibility….
Scott: I can answer. I mean, I can answer questions. I don't know how deep my knowledge is about anything.
Ayers: Don't you have a published law review article while you were in law school that concerns the subject of fiduciary responsibility in part?
Scott: I recall one article published. But I don't remember. I don't remember… exactly what it's about. It was a labor issue that I —
Ayers: You say it was a labor issue?
Scott: I believe so.
Ayers: Let me show you… the Southwestern Law Review Journal article that we were discussing… it's not about labor work, is it?
Ayers: It's about using corporate transactions in private business opportunities, is it not?
Ayers: One of the things you believe strongly in, in a management strategy, is the idea of decentralizing authority down to the operational level to the greatest extent that you can.
Scott: We try to provide all of our employees with as much opportunity to make decisions as we can.
Ayers: You… believe that subordinate employees should have defined areas of responsibility and should keep their superiors advised of what's going on in their operations. Is that also a theory of yours in business?
Ayers: Another thing you stress is avoiding legal problems if you can.
Ayers: (Did you have) any legal advice in the preparation or drafting of your July 15, 1991, letter?
Scott: I don't know. ... because I didn't even remember the letter.
Ayers: Do you have any recollection of discussing any of your decisions…..
Scott: At any time ever?
Ayers: During the time period you were drafting letters.
Ayers: The July 15 letter, 1991.
Scott: Oh, I don't have any recollection because I don't recall the letter. ... I sign letters all the time that I have not read.
Ayers: Do you believe that a legal education is something you should use, at least in part, for the benefit of the public? Sort of a public trust?
Scott: I'm not sure I understand the question…. What's your definition of public trust?
Ayers: You took the Texas Bar examination, you took an oath. Do you remember in taking an oath to the effect that a license to practice law was a public trust?
Ayers: You don't remember that?
Scott: I remember the oath.
Ayers: If you wanted to find out if the Columbia Regional Oncology Center in El Paso today has been profitable over the years, is that information available to you?
Scott: I don't know.
Ayers: You really don't know?
Scott: That's right.
Ayers: You couldn't find out if a part of your corporation was profitable or unprofitable?
Scott: Parts of it would be difficult.
Ayers: How would you characterize your letter to Dr. Aboud, as an agreement on your part….. or a promise on your part to do certain things for Dr. Aboud?
Scott: Well, if you read through this letter the first paragraph talks about an understanding.
Ayers: What I was saying, Mr. Scott, was that the word 'understanding' is presumably the author's word. The author of the letter we don't know. All we know is that Richard Scott thinks that that's his signature, okay?
Scott: How would I characterize the letter?
Ayers: In your own words…. Is that an agreement or a promise on your part to do certain things for Dr. Aboud if he'll do certain things for you?
Scott: (No Response).
Ayers: I'm not trying to impose on you, but frankly I think you can answer that.
Scott: Okay. So what's the question?... I don't know what the def — your definition or anybody's definition of an 'agreement' is, or an 'offer' is, or 'promise' is. I can read these words to you, but to say that it's something else, I have no idea.
Ayers: What is it?
Scott: It's a letter.
Ayers: What does it say?
Scott: It says these words.
Ayers: And what does that mean to you? If you were to characterize that?
Scott: I would characterize it as a letter with these words.
Ayers: That's the way you talk in regular business activities, 'This is a letter in these words?" or wouldn't you say: "This is an agreement?"
Scott: I would say this is a letter.
Ayers: That's all you'd say.
Ayers: Did you consider that you had made an agreement with Dr. Aboud?
Scott: I don't know.
Ayers: You don't know?
Scott: I have no idea.
Ayers: Why did you write the letter?
Scott: I have no idea. I don't know if I did write the letter….. I don't know what the intention is in 1991… I don't know if I even said this. I don't know if I signed this. So I have no idea.
Ayers: You don't know if you signed it?
Scott: I don't believe I did.
Ayers: Do you think it's your signature?
Scott: It looks like my signature.
Ayers: That would be an indication you signed it
Ayers: You're not trying to back up now and deny that you signed it, are you?
Scott: I'm not saying I signed it.
Ayers: You're not saying anything, are you?
Scott: I have no idea if I signed this.
Ayers: You can't give us any substantive testimony about that letter at all; can you?
Scott: Well, I don't know what your definition of substantive is.