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Spokane hormone doctor pursues bankruptcy

Thu., March 11, 2010, midnight

Hart and her spouse list assets of $43,150

Dr. Cheryle Hart and her husband have filed for personal bankruptcy after closing their alternative hormone therapy practice last year.

Hart had been a popular physician who recruited thousands of women to attend her “Hormones by Hart” seminars, where she promised help handling menopause through supplements and consultations.

She also wrote self-help books that earned royalties of more than $35,000 during the past three years.

The couple listed debts of $1.2 million and stated in court records that their assets were worth $43,150.

The bankruptcy filing lists more than 4,000 potential creditors, most of whom are former patients, Hart and her husband and business manager, Ronald Grossman, told the bankruptcy trustee this week.

Kevin O’Rourke, the couple’s bankruptcy lawyer, said the list is to notify anyone with claims to pursue those claims in bankruptcy court.

The bankruptcy follows professional reprimands and regulatory actions against Hart in several states during the past two years. In earlier interviews with her husband, she said the economic slowdown also cut into her patient numbers and profits from her practice.

Her financial problems were worsened by lawsuit judgments and resulting bank account garnishments.

She owes more than $180,000 in federal and state taxes.

The bankruptcy petition includes many of the couple’s former business ventures, ranging from the hormone consultation business to the dietary supplement supplier, to three spray-on truck-bed liner companies that Grossman owned.

They hope to emerge from bankruptcy with a clean balance sheet. They still own companies under which Hart conducts her medical practice and prescribes supplements, called Body Life Wellness Inc., Emperian Medical and Fix Stress Now. Together the couple earns $6,000 a month.

Some of their problems began after patients complained that her seminars, which cost in excess of $750, led to inadequate follow-up care, incorrect prescriptions and wrong diagnoses.

Hart surrendered her license to practice medicine in Montana after regulatory problems, including complaints she told patients insurance would cover some of her services.

She said she responded to similar complaints in Idaho and ceased to practice in that state, though patients in Idaho could visit her Spokane office.

She was then reprimanded by the Washington Medical Quality Assurance Commission and has several conditions placed against her license, such as keeping proper records.

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