MDVIP Found Responsible for Negligence and Faces False Claims Charges
Searcy Denney Wins $8.5 Million Award for Plaintiff Duped by Leading Concierge Medical Service
West Palm Beach, Fla. – (Feb. xx, 2015) – South Florida law firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA (Searcy Denney) today announced that a Palm Beach County jury found concierge medical service MDVIP responsible for fraud and false advertising, awarding approximately $8.5 million to the estate of Joan Beber, a Boca Raton resident whose leg was amputated as a result of MDVIP’s failure to deliver the quality medical services promised to its members.
It is the first time that MDVIP has been held liable for the conduct of one of its 784 affiliated doctors since the company was founded in 2000 and the first time its marketing methods have been scrutinized.
In 2008, Mrs. Beber, then a recent MDVIP member, sought medical attention for leg pain and was treated by MDVIP primary care physician, Dr. Charles Metzger Jr. Despite the progressive worsening of her condition, Mrs. Beber was repeatedly misdiagnosed by Metzger and other MDVIP-affiliated staff. Orthopedists to whom Beber was referred by Metzger, and with whom Metzger was supposed to be coordinating Beber’s care, were never given medical records or informed of her worsening symptoms– information that should have led to the discovery of a serious circulation problem in Ms. Beber’s leg that eventually required the above-the-knee amputation.
She would spend the next four years dealing with serious phantom pain and struggling to learn to walk on a prosthetic leg before dying of leukemia in 2012.
Ms. Beber’s estate was represented at trial by Karen Terry, Jack Scarola, and Andrea Robinson of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, P.A.
Significantly, the scope of the case extends beyond medical malpractice. During a three-week trial, the Plaintiff’s lawyers argued that MDVIP misled Beber and her husband Robert Beber into paying $1,500 each annually for what they were told, verbally and in writing, would be exceptional care provided by a network of exceptional doctors. They charged MDVIP with making false claims as to the qualifications of their doctors, the availability of specialist physicians, and access to top-quality hospitals.
The trial concluded on Monday, February 9, and the jury delivered its verdict the next day after deliberating for a total of just over six hours. Dr. Metzger and his colleagues settled out of court prior to trial, but those settlements do not diminish the damages for which MDVIP was found to be liable by this jury’s verdict. The verdict also carries with it a liability for seven years of attorneys’ fees and costs, estimated to add as much as a million dollars or more to the final judgment against MDVIP.
“MDVIP’s scheme worked just like most other con games,” said Scarola. “MDVIP essentially took money for a service that did not exist and which they never intended to provide. Had Ms. Beber not been duped, she never would have suffered the tragic and traumatic injury that ensued. The jury’s unprecedented verdict is a clear indication of their agreement that what MDVIP really stands for is Marketing Deception and Valueless Illusory Promises.”
The case is Robert Beber vs. MDVIP, Case No. 50-2009-CA-034380-XXXX-MB-AN, Circuit Court of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, in and for Palm Beach County, Florida.
Since it was founded by two Boca Raton doctors in 2000, MDVIP has grown to be one of the nation’s largest and best-known concierge services. It is now owned by Summit Partners, a private equity firm. MDVIP does business in 43 states and its 784 currently enrolled doctors each treated up to a maximum of 600 patients who pay an annual fee that now exceeds $1,600.
The company earned close to $704 million in annual revenue solely from the $1500 membership fees, a figure disputed by MDVIP.
“MDVIP’s very business model is at issue,” said Karen Terry. “The company convinces the public that retainer payments to a concierge ensure superior service. As this landmark case sadly demonstrates, we need to take a much longer and more critical look at how this entire industry actually operates. This verdict will have serious future ramifications for MDVIP, which has now been held to be vicariously liable for its physicians.”
Joan Beber is survived by her husband Robert Beber, former general counsel of W.R. Grace & Co. Mr. Beber declined to seek damages for himself, asking for only $1 in recognition of his own loss of companionship, support, and services.
“It’s not about him, it’s about Joan, it’s about their grandchildren and about the charities they loved,” Terry said in court.
For more information, contact Bryant Madden, 202-973-5303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, PA
A nationally recognized trial law firm, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, P.A. is committed to protecting and vindicating the rights of people injured through negligence, deceit and abuse of power. Over the past 40 years, the firm has represented clients in courtrooms throughout Florida and across the nation.