Rick Scott's Firm Sued 10 Times, Candidate Described as 'Ruthless'

Thursday, 05 Aug 2010 03:17 PM

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A new healthcare company that Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott created, following his controversial resignation from Columbia/HCA, has been embroiled in 10 legal actions in the past decade.

Several of the complaints involve fraud and alleged discrimination.

The Tampa Bay Tribune, which reviewed the legal actions, concluded:

“Taken together, they portray the company, and sometimes Scott by extension, as a ruthless employer who discriminated or cut corners in pursuit of profit.”

The firm, Solantic, operates emergency-care clinics in Florida. According to the Tribune, which reviewed the lawsuits, Scott himself was involved in two of those lawsuits.

One of the lawsuits involved a claim by Florida physician P. Mark Glencross that Solantic "misused" the doctor's medical license. In 2004 Florida clinics were required to appoint a medical director, and Glencross sued because he was not informed Solantic had sent paperwork to Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration appointing him to that post.

“Just six days before Rick Scott announced his bid for governor, he was deposed in a case that alleged his healthcare company Solantic had broken Florida law by filing false medical licensing information with the state,” the Tribune said.

Solantic denied the Glencross allegation, and settled the lawsuit.

The doctor signed a confidentiality agreement that ensured he would not discuss his allegations.

It's not the first time Scott has been under fire due to legal issues related to one of his healthcare firms. In 1997, in the midst of what has been described as the biggest healthcare scandal in U.S. history, Scott was forced to step down from Columbia HCA, the hospital chain he founded and served as CEO.

The hospital company eventually settled Medicare and Medicaid fraud claims to the whopping tune of $1.7 billion.

In nine of the Solantic cases, the firm obtained a confidentiality agreement from the plaintiff, meaning he or she agreed not to discuss the case.

The exception was a lawsuit by Dr. David Yarian, who was among the earliest physicians to work with Solantic, and apparently the first to file suit against it. Yarian tells Newsmax he's speaking out about his experience with Scott because it is important for Florida voters to know who they are voting for.

"He doesn't care about personal individuals, and how his decisions impact on the individual," Yarian tells Newsmax. "He'll make them solely based on financial consequences.

"I'll tell you things he said to me, when I was trying to hire well-qualified staff. He made comments to me that, 'Fat people can't work for Solantic.' I don't know if it's ruthless. It's pretty cold-hearted and just kind of simple minded, thinking that because someone has a weight problem that they're not qualified to work for you."

Yarian said Scott also sent him an e-mail once that people who work for Solantic should be "fit, trim, and attractive."

Yarian says his lawsuit was an effort to get the firm to honor compensation promised in his employment agreement. The Scott campaign has described Yarian as a disgruntled former employee.

Yarian says when left Solantic he was "very concerned" about "discriminatory practices" that occurred in 2001. Today, the firm states it has a higher percentage of minority employees than the general population in Florida.

The Scott campaign has told the media that Yarian was fired for violating a company policy by taking free samples that were left behind at a clinic by a pharmaceutical representative. Actually, Yarian said, the incident occurred before any Solantic clinics had opened. The sales representative was actually selling "dressing materials," such as bandages, he says.

"There were no medications," says Yarian. "It wasn't a pharmaceutical representative… They had to manufacture something to try and defend themselves to get out of paying my settlement that I thought I was due based on my employment agreement."

Yarian said Scott hired him and signed his employment agreement as CEO of Solantic. But he says Scott "lied after the fact" and denied he was the firm's CEO and said the CEO notation was a clerical error, in order to avoid giving a deposition. Scott denied any day-to-day role in the operation of the company, according to Yarian.

"Rick never wants to be deposed -- he'll do everything to get out of it," Yarian told the Tribune. The Scott campaign did not immediately reply to a Newsmax request Thursday morning for a response to the allegations.

Yarian, who worked for Columbia/HCA under Scott's management, and who provides hospice care to dying patients, says he's going public with his experiences with Scott so that voters are better informed.

"He is a control freak," Yarian says. "He always to control everybody and everything. And it's interesting, you look at his campaign now, what he's doing. It's scary for me to think of him, and how being governor he is not going to represent the majority of Floridians at all. That's why I'm speaking out because I've had personal interaction with him, I know him. He's got money. It's his money that's buying him what he's getting and he's running for the governor position… Money is what buys politics, unfortunately."

Scott was involved in two of the lawsuits against Solantic. Scott is a major investor in Solantic, whose CEO is long-time Scott associate Karen Bowling. According to Solantic's Web site, Scott co-founded the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company in 2001.

Its mission was "to provide convenient, affordable care while filling the gap between primary physician care and emergency room services."

The name Solantic derives from "south on the Atlantic." The company claims to offer "complete pricing transparency with all prices set forth on a Starbucks-style menu board for all to see."

Solantic opened its first four centers in North Florida in 2002, and primarily along the east coast of Florida. Since opening its first four centers in 2002 in North Florida, Solantic has grown to more than 30 centers located throughout Florida.




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