Planet Hospital, a popular medical tourism company that up until recently provided international surrogacy services, is facing a case of involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy from three former clients. The shutdown of Planet Hospital’s surrogacy services reportedly happened in December 2013.
The Bay Area Reporter couldn’t find any mention of the closure of the company’s surrogacy services on its website or through a web search.
Rupak “Rudy” Acharya, founder and chief executive officer of Planet Hospital, told the B.A.R. that he simply removed the service from the company’s website in January, but he hadn’t publicly announced the closure of the surrogacy services.
The sudden halt of international surrogacy services has left an estimated 30 sets of intended parents out of money and scrambling to secure their place in the surrogacy process and move forward with planning their family, said Catherine Moscarello, the former director of client services for Planet Hospital’s Cancun program.
Planet Hospital also assists people with traveling to other countries for other medical procedures.
Three former Planet Hospital clients, Jonathan C. Dailey, Garrett Warner, and Jay W. Sisam, filed an involuntary petition against Planet Hospital, based in Calabasas, California, under Chapter 7 bankruptcy February 18 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California. The petitioners are asking for a combined $79,000 in refunds of fees paid for services that Planet Hospital has allegedly failed to perform. The men are represented by attorney Thomas Schelly of El Segundo, California.
Acharya said he made some mistakes. “Unfortunately, I made some very, very, very bad decisions which resulted in a lot of people not getting their services at the moment, but I’ve been working diligently to fix that,” said Acharya. He didn’t agree with the forced bankruptcy proceeding, which could potentially remove control of the company from him and his management team and liquidate the assets. He believes it is “shortsighted” and not allowing him time to “fix the situation.”
Acharya pointed out that he is a Canadian citizen with homes around the world and could easily leave, but he is back in southern California working on correcting the situation and that he’s proud of his work, especially in the LGBT community.
Schelly wouldn’t disclose his clients’ sexual orientation. The B.A.R. was unable to contact the men who filed the bankruptcy proceeding.
But with more and more LGBTs creating families, Moscarello said at least three-quarters of the clients affected by Planet Hospital’s surrogacy shutdown are gay.
None of the gay former clients were willing to speak with the B.A.R. about their surrogacy experiences, but they have been active on Facebook, where Moscarello co-launched a closed Planet Hospital survivors’ support group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/PlanetHospitalSurvivors/. Two former clients, identified only as Rhy and Drew, launched a blog, http://0kayintheend.blogspot.com, documenting their surrogacy process and ultimately complaints and warnings against Planet Hospital.
There may also be a federal investigation into Planet Hospital. On the Okay in the End blog, Dailey, one of the men in the bankruptcy proceeding, posted on February 27 that he had received confirmation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that an agent is “ready to open his case in the San Diego office of the FBI against Acharyya ‘Rudy’ Rupak (a Canadian citizen) and Carlo Aldo Bonfonte (of San Diego, USA), business partners of Planet Hospital.com LLC, an active LLC registered in San Diego.”
FBI spokesman Darrell Foxworth told the B.A.R. that he couldn’t confirm if the bureau was investigating Planet Hospital.
One of the sad ironies? Planet Hospital’s motto was “A New Way To Care”….