FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2023
Defendants – including Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare and Anthem – Allegedly Conspired to Destroy a Black-Owned Business to Avoid Insurance Payouts
ATLANTA, GA—(PR NEWSWIRE) Attorneys representing LifeBrite Laboratories, an Atlanta-based clinical laboratory, and its founder, Christian Fletcher, filed a lawsuit against six major insurance companies, charging that they made false allegations about LifeBrite to regulators and prosecutors to avoid paying millions of dollars in legitimate claims.
The complaint, filed by Miller Barondess LLP in State Court in Georgia, alleges that defendants, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Elevance Health Inc., Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc., UnitedHealth Group Incorporated, and CVS Health Corp./Aetna, intentionally destroyed LifeBrite’s business and reputation, resulting in damages exceeding $1 billion.
“It is a travesty that the nation’s largest insurers, which are making record profits and are valued collectively at almost $1 trillion, abused their power to punish this small minority-owned healthcare provider,” said Skip Miller, partner at Miller Barondess LLP in Los Angeles, attorney for LifeBrite Laboratories and Mr. Fletcher. “The insurance companies instigated the criminal prosecution of Mr. Fletcher, but he was found not guilty on all charges. They are now going to be held accountable for what they’ve done to him.”
LifeBrite provides clinical testing services such as blood and urine toxicology testing to healthcare organizations, including rural hospitals in Georgia, Florida, and throughout the country. After paying millions of dollars for laboratory testing performed over five years, the insurance providers began denying coverage and refusing to pay claims.
To evade payment, the complaint alleges that the defendants conspired to falsely and maliciously portray LifeBrite’s relationship with the hospitals as healthcare billing fraud, despite federal law that permits exactly what LifeBrite did here. The lawsuit further alleges that the insurers leveraged their relationships with regulators, law enforcement, and others in the healthcare community to prosecute and destroy LifeBrite and other labs to avoid paying money owed.
The complaint, filed in Atlanta, charges the insurers with malicious prosecution, racketeering under Georgia’s RICO law, tortious interference with contractual and business relations, and defamation. It seeks a jury trial and more than $1 billion in damages.
Based on the documents and testimony provided by the insurer defendants, the U.S. Justice Department charged Mr. Fletcher and nine other individuals in 2020 with healthcare fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy. During Mr. Fletcher’s trial, representatives of the insurance companies admitted under cross-examination that they had provided inaccurate information both to a federal Grand Jury and at trial. In March 2023, a jury acquitted Mr. Fletcher of all charges.
However, the damage has been done. In 2019, LifeBrite had entered into a contract to sell the company for more than $400 million. Because of the defendants’ actions, the deal collapsed. It also cost LifeBrite both customers and a significant amount of business.
Prior to the insurers’ smear campaign, LifeBrite was a thriving and successful company, recognized for its work by major publications in Atlanta, with Mr. Fletcher being named one of the city’s most prominent minority business enterprise owners.
View the complaint here: 23-C-05058-S7