Tenet ( THC) has yet to close a particularly messy wound. After spending two years in negotiations and paying nearly $450 million in legal settlements, the company still faces possible payouts for questionable heart surgeries performed at a hospital it once owned. What's more, critics of the hospital chain say they think cash is growing so tight that Tenet may have trouble paying off any remaining liabilities. News of the continuing legal exposure could surprise investors who assumed that a recent settlement -- which squeezed Tenet's liquidity -- would be the last payment for alleged wrongdoing at its former hospital in Redding, Calif. Instead, the company still faces a lingering courtroom challenge. In August 2003, Tenet paid $54 million to settle Justice Department charges that the company profited from unnecessary heart surgeries performed on Medicare patients at Redding. Last year the company sold the hospital -- once among its most profitable operations -- after the government sought to exclude it from the Medicare program for performing cardiac services that, it claimed, "were medically unnecessary and failed to meet professionally recognized standards of health care." As 2004 drew to a close, Tenet agreed to shell out $395 million to settle a class-action suit with hundreds of patients and survivors who suffered as a result of allegedly unnecessary medical procedures. But the bleeding may not end there. The company still faces a civil lawsuit filed by the same priest who helped the federal government land its $54 million fine. And this case, which accuses Tenet of bilking private insurers, could be even more expensive. "There is a ton of money at stake," says Mark Kleiman, a California attorney who specializes in whistle-blower lawsuits but is not involved in this case. "Just do the math." Paul Dauer, the attorney representing Father John Corapi in the case, already has. On the basis of rough estimates, Dauer believes that Tenet faces between $120 million and $345 million in damages.