Carlo Coppo – Partner
Phone: 760-918-0500 x18
Carlo Coppo attended Stanford University School of Law (LL.B., December 1962). He was admitted to the California Bar in June 1963 and obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1960. In 1970 Mr. Coppo became a co-founder of the Riverside-San Bernardino Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and is currently affiliated with both the Orange County and San Diego County Chapters of ABOTA. He has served as an arbitrator and judge pro tem for the San Diego County Superior Court, is a Vice President of the California Academy for Attorneys for Healthcare Professionals (CAAHCP), a past member of the Board of Directors of the San Diego Association of Health Care Risk Managers (SDAHRM), a member of the Southern California Association of Healthcare Risk Manager (SCAHRM), a member of the California Society for Healthcare Attorneys (CSHA), a member of the California Association of Medical Staff Services (CAMSS), a member of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel (ASCDC), a member of the California Healthcare Association, and a member of the Board of Advisors for Inner Solutions for Success, Professional Boundaries Program. He is also past chairman of the Stanford Law Society of San Diego.
Mr. Coppo has from time to time, provided advice and counsel to numerous hospitals and medical staffs, physicians and other health care providers in San Diego, Orange, Riverside, Imperial, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Fresno, Tulare, Stanislaus, South Monterey, Madera, Yolo, San Benito and Shasta Counties. Mr. Coppo was also general counsel for medical staff matters at Mission Bay Hospital from 1995 until its closure in 2003, and from 1986 to 1991 as a member of the Board of Directors of Alvarado Hospital Medical Center in San Diego. Mr. Coppo was recently named to a statewide panel of medical staff attorneys for BETA Healthcare Group. He has been named a “Super Lawyer” for 2006 and 2007 in healthcare for San Diego County.
In addition, Mr. Coppo has represented numerous health care and ancillary care professionals before the various licensing boards of the State of California, including the Medical Board of California, the Board of Psychology, the Board of Behavioral Sciences, the Dental Board, the Board of Registered Nursing, and has also represented physicians in connection with disciplinary matters before the Veterans’ Administration.
Having specialized in medical staff, peer review and related litigation on behalf of healthcare providers since 1968, Mr. Coppo has also had the privilege of serving as a Hearing Officer, at both the JRC and Appeal Board levels for the following healthcare providers:
- The Regents of the University of California
- UCLA Medical Center
- UCLA/Santa Monica Medical Center
- UCSD Medical Center
- Sharp Health System
- Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center
- Sharp Memorial Hospital
- Scripps Health System
- Scripps/Mercy Medical Center
- Riverside Community Hospital
- Los Alamitos Medical Center (Tenet)
- Shasta Regional Medical Center
- Children’s Specialists of San Diego
The peer review hearings over which Mr. Coppo has presided as Hearing Officer include both those in which the parties have represented themselves in pro per and those where the parties were represented by counsel both adversarially and in a consultative role only. The medical specialities addressed have included cardiology, invasive cardiology, electro-physiology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, radiation oncology, and general surgery, among others.
In addition, Mr. Coppo has submitted his name for consideration by the California Society of Healthcare Attorneys for a proposed statewide panel of approved hearing officers (pending).
Mr. Coppo has lectured to and authored articles in his areas of expertise for continuing education groups, the Southern California Defense Counsel, the annual conferences on civil defense presented by Truck Insurance Exchange, the San Diego Association of Hospital Risk Managers, Beta Healthcare Group, the Southern California Association of Healthcare Risk Managers (SCHARM), the San Diego Association of Healthcare Risk Managers (SDAHRM), the San Diego Organization of Healthcare Leaders (SOHL), the San Diego County Bar Medical/Legal Liaison Committee, the California Association of Medical Staff Services (CAMSS) and Cal-Western Law School and a joint program on “Peer Review after Kibler v. Northern Inyo County Local Hospital District,” for the California Healthcare Association (CHA), the California Society for Healthcare Attorneys (CSHA), and Sharp Health System.
Mr. Coppo has tried in excess of 100 jury trials to verdict before courts of general jurisdiction including Superior Courts in 10 counties and United States District Courts in the Central, Southern and Eastern Districts of California. Approximately one third of those litigations have been in the medical malpractice arena, another third in the wrongful termination, hospital staff privilege and peer review arena and the rest in general civil liability. These litigations included multiple representations of over 100 healthcare provider entities, including members of boards of directors, CEOs, Chiefs of Staff, Chiefs of Service, Medical Executive Committees, and individual peer reviewers for public entities including hospital districts, non-profit and for-profit hospitals, and the Regents of the University of California. In addition, Mr. Coppo has tried numerous civil litigations for the State of California, the Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino, the Riverside County Flood Control Flood District, the San Bernardino County Flood Control District, and the Coachella Valley County Water and Flood Control District, and numerous private corporations, entities, and individuals. Mr. Coppo has also litigated extensively in the areas of state and federal discrimination litigation, libel and slander, defamation, wrongful termination, products liability, insurance, bad faith, commercial litigation/trade secrets, and constitutional law, with an emphasis on First Amendment issues.
Mr. Coppo recently obtained a unanimous decision by the California Supreme Court for the first time applying the California Anti-SLAPP Statute (CCP §425.16) to prevent prematurely filed medical staff/peer review lawsuits against hospitals and physicians who serve on peer review committees (Kibler v. Northern Inyo County Local Hospital District, 39 Cal.4th 192 (2005)). Mr. Coppo is also lead counsel in another case just decided by the California Supreme Court in which Mr. Coppo represents an Ob/Gyn clinic in defense of a claim by a patient contending that the California Unruh Act’s proscription of sexual orientation and marital status discrimination trumps a physician’s First Amendment religious liberty guarantee (Benitez v. North Coast Women’s Care, Case No. S142892).
Mr. Coppo also testified before the Senate Health Committee and successfully lobbied the California Legislature to enact AB 1316 to add additional statutory protections for non-employee independent contractor physicians serving on peer review committees at District Hospitals.
Mr. Coppo has also been an expert witness in medical staff related litigation on behalf of both health care providers and aggrieved physicians and has also been an expert witness in legal malpractice litigation arising out of peer review representation.
Significant Appellate Court Decisions
- Kibler v. Northern Inyo County Hospital District
Mr. Coppo just obtained a unanimous California Supreme Court decision in Kibler v. Northern Inyo County Hospital District, 39 Cal.4th 192 (2006) which, for the first time, extends the protection of the California anti-SLAPP statute (CCP §425.16) to prevent premature, meritless, and harassing lawsuits against hospitals and physician peer reviewers. Because the anti-SLAPP statute permits pre-discovery dismissal of such lawsuits and awards mandatory attorneys’ fees to the successful defendant, Kibler has been called the most significant peer review decision since Westlake v. Superior Court.
- Benitez v. North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group
Mr. Coppo successfully represented an OB-Gyn clinic and two physicians in a published decision by Division One of the Fourth District Court of Appeal restoring the doctors’ First Amendment religious liberty defense to a claim of marital status/sexual orientation brought under the Unruh Civil Rights Act after the defense had been stricken by the trial judge. The Benitez case was accepted for review by the California Supreme Court addressing the following issue: “Does a physician have a constitutional right to refuse on religious grounds to perform a medical procedure for a patient because of a patient’s sexual orientation?” The Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the plaintiff and the case has been remanded to Superior Court for trial.
- Palm Springs Medical Clinic v. Desert Hospital District
Mr. Coppo represented the then Desert Hospital District in the first case to extend the protections of the Local Government Anti-Trust Act of 1986 to prevent federal anti-trust cases against District Hospitals in California. Palm Springs Medical Clinic v. Desert Hospital (CAC.D., 1986) 628 F.Supp. 454.
Mr. Coppo is an award winning photographer, a published author, an actor for the Gaslamp Quarter Theatre in San Diego, a past mentor for the Garfield High School Children In Crisis program, a reader of literature to school children through the auspices of BookPALS and the Screen Actors’ Guild, and is an active runner, weight lifter and ocean swimmer.