In the latest bit of controversy surrounding legal and medical referral services, 1-800-ASK-GARY founder Dr. Gary Kompothecras has filed a lawsuit against news provider Bloomberg L.P., Allstate Insurance and three individuals. The lawsuit, filed in Sarasota Circuit Court, centers on a November 2011 article published by Bloomberg, entitled “Fraud Probed with Romney’s Fundraiser Cited by Victims.”
The article in question investigates the relationship between 1-800-ASK-GARY and Physicians Group, a chain of clinics founded by Gary Kompothecras. At the time the article was published, Florida’s Division of Insurance Fraud had already opened a statewide criminal probe of accident-referral services, including the ask-Gary network. The probe was initiated to investigate various issues including whether lawyers or clinics in the network make unlawful payments for referrals, whether patients are being treated for non-existent injuries, and whether lawyers are directing treatment based on how much insurance coverage patients have.
State Farm filed a federal lawsuit against Kompothecras, his clinics, and the 1-800-ASK-GARY doctor-lawyer referral service. State Farm alleges that a substantial portion of the more than $19 million in no-fault medical claims it has paid to Physicians Group accident clinics was unlawful because it was the result of a patient referral system that violates Florida laws, including the Patient Brokering Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Patient Self-Referral Act. The suit against Kompothecras’ network alleges a scheme to aggressively market post-crash medical care, whether or not motorists believe they are injured, and to exhaust the $10,000 limits of personal injury protection without regard to available health insurance.
Despite facing a criminal investigation and a federal suit, Kompothecras’ own lawsuit claims Bloomberg committed libel and that two former Physicians Group patients slandered the business in the November 2011 article. The three individuals named as defendants are Bloomberg writer David Armstrong and two former patients, Kathleen Weston and Jennifer Molina, both Tampa Bay area residents at the time. The lawsuit further alleges that Bloomberg and Allstate misappropriated trade secrets of Physicians Group and the 1-800-ASK-GARY legal and medical referral network.
According to the suit, “the case arose after extortionists threatened Physicians Group and Dr. Gary Kompothecras that they would destroy their reputations unless they coughed up $3 million.” When Kompothecras refused to cooperate, “the extortionists conspired with Allstate, Bloomberg, and a writer to publish an outlandish hit piece maliciously asserting defamatory lies in order to damage Physicians Group and Dr. Kompothecras.”
Ultimately, a federal court will decide whether Kompothecras and his legal and medical referral network have violated Florida law. Regardless of the outcome, the controversy surrounding Kompothecras and 1-800-ASK-GARY brings attention to the potential pitfalls of accident victims using a legal and medical referral service. The bottom line is that a referral service such as 1-800-ASK-GARY may not have the best interests of you, the accident victim, at the forefront.
Hiring an attorney after an accident is an extremely important decision and you should accept nothing less than an attorney who will always act in your best interest. The attorneys at Dolman Law Group refuse to participate in a lawyer referral service. The majority of our clients are the friends and family of previous or current clients. This is a testament to the hard work and dedication that our attorney’s provide. If you or someone you know is in need of representation after an accident, don’t make the mistake of calling a lawyer-referral service. Call the experienced attorneys at Dolman Law Group. 727-451-6900.