LAS VEGAS, NV – In a closely watched trial by doctors and insurance companies across the country, a Nevada jury handed Greek-American Houston attorney John Zavitsanos yet another trial victory on behalf of underpaid emergency room doctors, this time with a $62.65 million award against United Healthcare, the largest insurer in the nation. With attorneys’ fees the award will be more than $70 million. This follows two earlier verdicts in Arkansas and Texas for $13 million and $20 million, respectively.
“United Healthcare got greedier and greedier and designed ways to not follow their own plan documents and brazenly pay these essential emergency room doctors less and less,” said Zavitsanos, the lead lawyer on the case for the ER physicians. “United just paid what it wanted to, not what it promised to, and not what it owed as reasonable and customary.”
Zavitsanos is also an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and serves on the National Council of the Order of St. Andrew.
The seven-week trial put several Las Vegas area ER physicians groups up against a cluster of United Healthcare affiliates. The jury found that the insurers cheated the doctors groups out of more than $2.65 million in payments and awarded $60 million in punitive damages.
The CEO of TeamHealth said of the jury verdict: “Our win … will meaningfully impact every front-line physician in America — and that’s no exaggeration.” The case was covered by national news media.
The lawsuit is one of many TeamHealth affiliates that have filed against various insurers across the country to stop systematic underpayment of ER doctors groups by insurance companies. Zavitsanos had already won two other jury trials for TeamHealth doctors in several states and settled a handful of other cases. This Nevada win against the largest U.S. insurer could be a bellwether for the more than two dozen similar cases around the nation against various insurers.
In the second phase of the case to determine punitive damages, Zavitsanos told jurors to consider how reprehensible the insurers’ actions were and to speak loudly enough with their verdict to create a deterrent.
The jury found the insurance affiliates liable for unjust enrichment, breach of contract and unfair insurance practices. The court had ruled that the insurers willfully hid evidence in this case.
TeamHealth is the nation’s largest clinical practice. It operates in 47 states, contracts with 16,000 healthcare professionals and treats 30 million patients annually.
The case is Fremont Emergency Services (Mandavia), et al. vs. UnitedHealth Group, Inc. et al. before Clark County Judge Nancy L. Allf in the Eighth Judicial District Court of Nevada.