Owner, ex-employee battle over patients

Sunday, February 29, 2004

YARMOUTH, Maine - It looks like a respiratory provider who lost roughly $500,000 in business when an ex-employee solicited away patients will try to recoup her money by going to court.

“We met for an attempted mediation Jan. 30th,” said the provider, who asked to remain anonymous. “It ran all day. We walked out at 4:30 p.m. refusing to accept the $30,000 settlement offer - after we’d negotiated our demand down to $125,000 (from $500,000).”

The provider and her attorney have requested a court date.

Among other things, the provider claims that at one time the employee, a full time respiratory therapist/salesman, also was working full time for another provider.

The provider is suing the ex-employee and accomplices for soliciting and converting 13 respiratory patients to other HMEs, diverting business totaling $100,000 and stealing equipment. In most instances, Medicare prohibits cold-calling beneficiaries to solicit their business. But there are ways to skirt that regulation, making non-solicitation contracts a must-do, say industry attorneys.