Allegations Concerning ASK-GARY1-800-ASK-GARY claims to be a free attorney and medical referral service. When you read the fine print at the bottom of their TV commercials and website, or listen to the rapid verbiage at the end of a radio spot, you will notice that they now openly admit that, “Healthcare providers and participating attorneys pay a fee to participate.” Albeit in small print I give them credit for disclosing such. Recently, State Farm filed a lawsuit against 1-800-ASK-GARY and its founder. The 52-page complaint filed on July 26, 2013 also makes the following allegations:
- Contrary to state law, personal injury patients were allegedly treated by Physicians Group, LLC providers without regard for health insurance benefits which should be considered to off-set the costs once PIP benefits are exhausted
- Nearly all of the ASK-GARY callers were referred to attorneys that pay to participate in their network; this has the very stink of a quid-pro-quo relationship since the attorneys in turn refer all of those personal injury clients to ASK-GARY medical clinics owned by the founder, Gary Kompothecras.
- Kompothecras is trying to create the illusion that his clinics and the advertising arm of the business operate at arm's length. However, a cousin of Gary Kompothecras is the owner of WS Marketing. State Farm has alleged that WS Marketing is a shell company of 1-800-ASK-GARY
411-Pain Network of AttorneysTo compare, 411-PAIN has seen a meteoric rise on the coattails of ASK-GARY in recent years. The company was developed in south Florida by a chiropractor, Robert Lewin. Lewin operated several injury clinics in the Miami area which have since opened up clinics throughout the State of Florida. 411-Pain has clinics of their own in several major metropolitan areas. In the less populated suburbs and neighboring cities, they call upon local medical providers to pay a fee to participate in their massive marketing campaigns. Of course, participating attorneys are also charged a fee to be included in the network as well. All callers are either referred to a clinic wholly owned by the advertiser or one of its participating medical providers (those that pay a fee in the less populated areas or areas where 411-Pain does not operate a clinic).
Deceptive Radio Commercials by 411-PainOn their website, the service states their ability to refer consumers to a lawyer. Further, their radio commercials eschew the claim that 411-Pain has cultivated an exclusive group of attorneys. In fact, many 411-Pain radio spots poke fun at the number of lawyers who advertise for handling personal injury claims. The truth is that the 411-Pain network of attorneys is hardly exclusive. The non-attorney spokesperson states that not every attorney can be a member of 411-Pain. This statement in and of itself is entirely misleading. The spokesperson purposely omits the fact that attorneys pay a fee to be a part of this medical and lawyer referral service. 411-Pain limits the number of attorneys per geographic region for the very purpose of being able to refer cases. If too many attorneys are in a geographic region, the referral service would not be able to properly distribute cases to participating attorneys. Auto accident victims are led to infer from the radio commercials that the individual in the call center employed by 411-Pain is actually researching the claim and determining which attorney or law firm is most capable of handling the particular claim. In contrast, cases are disbursed to attorneys based on a rotation to ensure each participating lawyer or firm received a proportionate number of cases. 411-Pain radio commercials may create the impression that only the most talented lawyers are members of this medical lawyer referral service. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, a majority of the most talented lawyers in the state, based on selection by U.S. News & World Report, Superlawyers, Florida Trend's Legal Elite and other third party rating services have no affiliation with any lawyer referral service. 411-Pain has attracted the attention of the Florida Attorney General's Office for deceptive advertising. The referral service was forced to answer for their actions in Broward County Circuit Court and as a result, paid a $550,000 fine which stems from:
- Promising monetary compensation in its ads
- Saying it's referring victims to a so-called “specialized attorney”
- Using a website's Find A Lawyer section to refer consumers to doctors or chiropractors
- Using images of law enforcement offices to suggest that officials are directing consumers to us 411-PAIN unless the office is labeled as a “paid actor”
- 1-800-ASK-GARY Participating Attorney List
- 411-Pain Participating Attorney List