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Miami-based Lash & Goldberg Secures $62.5 million victory in TeamHealth lawsuit against United Healthcare

Lash & Goldberg LLP is pleased to announce that its clients won a $62.65 million jury verdict after 15 days of trial in Nevada. Three TeamHealth affiliated emergency physician practice groups sued United Healthcare and its affiliates in April 2019 for underpayment of out-of-network emergency services.  The closely watched case raised important nationwide industry issues regarding the proper reimbursement for “out-of-network” hospital services provided by emergency room physicians, who are required by law to treat all patients, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.  Commercial health insurers like United Healthcare understand that the clinicians will treat their members but have continued to slash payments over the past several years.  The practice groups filed the lawsuit to compel United Healthcare to pay the fair and reasonable value of their emergency services.

Lash & Goldberg partner Justin Fineberg led the firm’s efforts as co-counsel for the TeamHealth affiliates in the lawsuit, devising the litigation strategy and conducting and managing the pre-trial discovery, including deposing numerous high-level United executives.  Getting the case trial-ready posed significant challenges, including reviewing hundreds of thousands of documents produced weeks before the close of discovery and completing over 50 depositions in a 90-day period.  Under Fineberg’s direction, the firm quickly mobilized a team of more than 15 lawyers and paralegals to keep the case on track.  

“It was an enormous undertaking to complete all the discovery in a very tight timeframe and prevent United from delaying the trial.  There were many late nights and early morning weekend Zoom calls, but we marshalled the firm’s resources and got the job done,” says Fineberg.  Lash & Goldberg attorneys involved in the Nevada case included:  Alan Lash, Martin Goldberg, Rachel LeBlanc, David Ruffner, Emily Pincow, Jonathan Feuer, Jonathan Siegelaub, Ashley Singrossi, Virginia Boies, and Erin Griebel.

“The admissions we obtained in discovery from United provided critical evidence to present to the jury,” Fineberg said.  The discovery obtained by the firm revealed United’s hidden involvement in the supposedly independent “Yale University” study regarding surprise billing authored by Zack Cooper.  That study, which concluded that out-of-network arrangements and balance billing had a supposed adverse national impact on healthcare costs, ultimately became the cornerstone for the federal No Surprises Act.  Discovery further exposed United’s calculated media campaign to malign emergency room clinicians with the ultimate goal of driving down reimbursement to unsustainable levels to increase United’s profits.  In some instances, United charged its clients more in “shared savings fees” than it paid the emergency room clinicians. 

“Lash & Goldberg played a critical role in bringing this case to trial and winning.  They serve as our national coordinating counsel in our fight for fair reimbursement for emergency room clinicians,” said Carol Owen, Chief Counsel for Revenue Payment Integrity for TeamHealth.  “We put together a wonderful team of lawyers, and Justin and the entire Lash & Goldberg team were integral in the victory,” said Owen. 

The jury’s verdict included compensatory damages of $2.65 million and punitive damages of $60 million.  Dr. Scott Scherr, regional medical director of TeamHealth explained the importance of the verdict: “A jury of my peers realized the value of emergency medicine in Nevada,” said Dr. Scherr.  He added: “I hope this sends a message to United Healthcare about the importance of frontline workers.” The firm’s co-counsel included the Houston-based AZA law firm, including John Zavitsanos, Joe Ahmad, Jane Langdell Robinson, Kevin Leyendecker, Michael Killingsworth,  Louis Liao, and Jason McManis, and the Nevada-based McDonald Carano law firm, including Pat Lundvall, Kristen Gallagher and Amanda Perach.   

Founded in 1996, South Florida-based Lash & Goldberg LLP is nationally regarded as a leading healthcare business litigation law firm, representing corporate healthcare clients in the prosecution and defense of an array of complex litigation matters throughout the United States.  Law360 recognized Lash & Goldberg as one of the five “2018 Health Care Practice Groups of the Year” in the United States.  The firm represents Team Health affiliated providers in state and federal courts (and arbitrations) against United Healthcare, Aetna, and other payers in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, and other jurisdictions.