LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Aug. 24, 2020) – Wright Lindsey Jennings (WLJ) served as national co-counsel in a lawsuit that resulted in a $9.4 million breach-of-contract verdict to approximately 175 emergency room (ER) doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants who were paid only 10 percent of insurance billings for services provided since 2014. The lawsuit was filed by WLJ on behalf of Southeastern Emergency Physicians, LLC, a subsidiary of TeamHealth Inc. in August 2017. The WLJ bench included team-lead Judy Simmons Henry, Baxter D. Drennon and Michael A. Thompson, all based in WLJ’s Little Rock offices.
“This case was filed to remedy an injustice to a group of excellent ER healthcare providers across our state who often deliver life-saving services to Arkansans,” said Judy Simmons Henry. “The jury recognized that the reimbursement rate for these ER services was set by agreement, and decided a ‘deal is a deal’ in enforcing the parties’ contract.”
In one of the first in-person jury trials in Arkansas since the COVID-19 virus hit, the jury in U.S. District Judge Brian S. Miller’s court found a gross underpayment and breach of contract for the emergency room professionals, who are based in seven healthcare facilities throughout Arkansas, including rural hospitals. The six-person jury on Tuesday evening awarded $9.4 million in damages, with the final award expected to increase with an award of attorneys’ fees and interest.
This lawsuit is one of many TeamHealth entities have filed against various insurers across the country to stop systematic underpayment of ER doctors by insurance companies. The providers are trying to level the playing field for ER caregivers who play such a pivotal role in our communities, but whose practice groups are being badly underpaid by several highly profitable insurance companies.
In the Arkansas contract signed in 2011, the Centene Corporation-controlled insurance company and health network agreed to pay the ER doctors fair reimbursement for ER services provided to the insureds of the Centene companies. But instead, the doctors were paid only 10 percent of the billed charges and were paid slowly at that. The jury also heard how Centene tried to muddy the waters regarding their ownership of the insurance companies and the entities responsible for paying the doctors.
TeamHealth is a physician-led, patient-focused company founded by doctors, for doctors. TeamHealth is represented in this lawsuit and others across the country by Wright Lindsey Jennings. John Zavitsanos, Kevin Leyendecker and Michael Killingsworth with Houston-based Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C., and Collin Kennedy with Dallas-based Hanshaw Kennedy Hafen, LLP appeared as co-trial counsel in this Arkansas case.
The case is Southeastern Emergency Physicians, LLC v. Arkansas Health & Wellness Health Plan, Inc.; Celtic Insurance Company d/b/a Arkansas Health & Wellness Insurance Company; Novasys Health, Inc., and Centene Corporation, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Case No. 4:17-cv-492-KGB.
About Wright Lindsey Jennings
Founded in 1900, Wright Lindsey Jennings is one of the premier law firms in Arkansas and the region, supporting businesses across a full range of litigation, corporate and transactional service areas. Many Wright Lindsey Jennings attorneys are consistently recognized by their peers as among the best in their areas of practice. The firm’s attorneys are also committed to excellence beyond the practice of law – serving and leading in local, regional and national professional and community organizations. Wright Lindsey Jennings has been recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work” in Arkansas in 2018 and 2019, and also received the 2020 Olivia Farrell Gender Equity Leadership Award. Today, Wright Lindsey Jennings has 69 attorneys practicing in Little Rock and Rogers. Visit www.WLJ.com to learn more.