Nevada Trial Culminates with Jury Ordering UnitedHealthcare to Pay TeamHealth Doctors $60 Million in Punitive Damages

12/8/2021, 2:46 PM (Source: GlobeNewswire)

LAS VEGAS, Dec. 08, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Yesterday, a Clark County, Nevada jury awarded $60 million in punitive damages to three Nevada-based TeamHealth affiliates in their case against UnitedHealthcare for unfair payment and reimbursement tactics. Today’s awarding of punitive damages follows last week’s verdict where the Nevada jury ruled that United deliberately failed to pay the frontline emergency room doctors adequately for care provided to patients. In that verdict, the jury unanimously found that United was guilty of “oppression, fraud, and malice” in its conduct.  

“Today’s ruling that United must pay $60 million in punitive damages sets a critical precedent that large health insurers can’t underpay frontline doctors for lifesaving care,” said TeamHealth President & CEO Leif Murphy. “We look forward to continuing the fight against United in nine future cases that will be decided on the same set of facts.”

Throughout the trial, evidence revealed that United paid as little as 20 percent of billed charges. In one instance, United only allowed a $254 charge for a gunshot wound billed at $1,428. When questioned, former United executive John Haben stated that saving somebody’s life was “worth” the $1,428 charged. Haben also revealed that United exposed its members to surprise medical bills and would only pay if a member complained. The court also uncovered United’s role in colluding with Yale University professor Zack Cooper to produce a controversial study promoting the false view that TeamHealth engaged in balance billing and ignored United’s financial incentive to terminate provider network participation and profit under its shared savings plan provisions with employers.

“The evidence showed UnitedHealthcare’s nefarious scheme to slash payments to frontline heroes in Nevada in order to make record profits,” said Dr. Scott Scherr, Regional Medical Director for TeamHealth and Freemont Service, and who led more than 100 medical first responders at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in the aftermath of the 2017 Las Vegas Mass Shooting. “I was shocked by the scheme – and grateful to the jury for recognizing the oppressive conduct and deterring it with the punitive damages awarded today.”

Looking ahead, TeamHealth is pursuing similar legal action against United and other harmful actors in pending court cases in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas. TeamHealth is committed to ensuring that our heroic frontline healthcare providers can properly secure the necessary reimbursement from insurers to cover the costs of the lifesaving care they provide.  

TeamHealth is planning to use the damages to cover the cost of litigation and distribute a measurable amount to frontline physicians across the country.

John Zavitsanos, Kevin Leyendecker and Joe Ahmad of the Houston law firm, Ahmad Zavitsanos Anaipakos, Pat Lundvall of the Las Vegas firm McDonald Carano and Justin Fineberg of Lash & Goldberg in Miami served as trial counsel to the TeamHealth affiliated physician groups.

About TeamHealth

At TeamHealth, our purpose is to perfect the practice of medicine every day in everything we do. We are proud to be the leading physician practice in the U.S., driven by our commitment to quality and safety and supported by our world-class operating team. To improve the experience of our physicians and advanced practice clinicians, we empower clinicians to act on what they believe is right, free clinicians from distractions so they can focus on patient care, invest in learning and development to promote growth in the clinical field and foster an environment where continuous improvement is a shared priority. Through our more than 15,000 affiliated healthcare professionals and advanced practice clinicians, TeamHealth offers emergency medicine, hospital medicine, critical care, anesthesiology, orthopedic surgery, general surgery, obstetrics, ambulatory care, post-acute care and medical call center solutions to approximately 2,900 acute and post-acute facilities and physician groups nationwide. Join our team; we value and empower clinicians. Partner with us; we deliver on our promises. Learn more at www.teamhealth.com.

The term “TeamHealth” as used throughout this release includes Team Health Holdings, Inc., its subsidiaries, affiliates, affiliated medical groups and providers, all of which are part of the TeamHealth organization. “Providers” are physicians, advanced practice clinicians and other healthcare providers who are employed by or contract with subsidiaries or affiliated entities of Team Health Holdings, Inc. All such providers exercise independent clinical judgment when providing patient care. Team Health Holdings, Inc., does not have any employees, does not contract with providers and does not practice medicine.

The collective term “United” as used throughout this release references defendants, UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company (“UHIC”), United HealthCare Services, Inc. (“UHS”), UMR, Inc. (“UMR”), Sierra Health and Life Insurance Co., Inc. (“SHL”), and Health Plan of Nevada, Inc. (“HPN”).

Case Name is Fremont Emergency Services (Mandavia), et al. vs. UnitedHealth Group, Inc et al. Case number is A-19-792978-B.

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Sylvia Ridenour
TeamHealth
865.328.7689
media@teamhealth.com
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