KNR law firm clients seek reimbursement for fraudulent medical-supply sales by Akron doctor

Dr. Sam Ghoubrial accused of pressuring car-accident victims referred by KNR into paying exorbitant prices for medical supplies without disclosing his financial interest in the transactions

AKRON, OHIO—This morning, former clients of the law firm Kisling Nestico & Redick (“KNR”) filed a request in their putative class-action lawsuit against the firm and its “partner” healthcare providers to add claims against Akron-area doctor Sam Ghoubrial, who allegedly pressured car-accident victims referred to him by KNR into paying exorbitant prices for medical supplies without disclosing his financial interest in the transactions.

The plaintiffs allege that Ghoubrial has treated thousands of KNR clients, car accident victims who are first solicited by cold calls from chiropractors delivering a high-pressure sales pitch to sign up with KNR lawyers (chiropractors, unlike attorneys, are not prohibited from directly contacting car-accident victims), and are then directed to treat with Dr. Ghoubrial for “pain management” services. Former KNR clients have testified that they were picked up by a van and shuttled first to the chiropractor’s office, where they are presented with paperwork to sign up with the KNR firm, and then to Ghoubrial’s office, where they received unnecessary cortisone shots, were offered prescriptions for addictive painkillers, and were sent home with medical supplies, including electrical-nerve-stimulation devices (“TENS units”), without being advised that they would be charged for this equipment or that Ghoubrial himself would profit from the transactions. Later, when the clients’ lawsuits resolved, KNR deducted funds from the clients’ share of the settlements to pay Ghoubrial for the equipment. Court records show that Ghoubrial was paid $500 from KNR client settlements for each TENS unit that he provided. The distributor of the TENS units has confirmed that Ghoubrial only paid $27.50 for each one and thus took an undisclosed profit of more than 1,800% on each sale. Ohio law prohibits doctors from taking secret profits from selling medical supplies to their patients.

The plaintiffs also cite peer-reviewed medical research showing that TENS units are not effective in treating acute pain from car accidents, and allege that when they complained to their KNR attorneys about the treatment they received from Ghoubrial or KNR’s “preferred” chiropractors, their attorneys advised them not to treat with another provider because it would hurt their cases. The plaintiffs further allege that Ghoubrial and the chiropractors refused to accept payment from the plaintiffs’ medical insurers so they could charge a higher rate for their services and avoid scrutiny of the treatment they provided.

The lawsuit was filed in 2016 and is currently pending in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. CV-2016-09-3928, with Judge James A. Brogan presiding. In addition to the claims described above, the lawsuit also seeks to recover fraudulent fees for “investigations” that never took place, “narrative fees” that functioned as an illegal kickback payment to chiropractors who referred patients to KNR, and fees paid for high-interest loans from Liberty Capital Funding, a company in which KNR maintained an unlawful and undisclosed ownership interest.

“It is unconscionable that Dr. Ghoubrial would take advantage of car-accident victims by charging them exorbitant prices for medical supplies,” said Peter Pattakos, attorney for the plaintiffs. “It is also, unfortunately, consistent with KNR’s high-volume business model that prioritizes the interests of attorneys and their so-called ‘partner’ health-care providers over the interests of their clients. The more car accident-victims these lawyers and doctors could funnel through their offices, the better it would be for them, regardless of the consequences for the clients, who were basically grist for the mill, nickel-and-dimed in a series of fraudulent transactions that were unlikely to be detected or prosecuted due to their small size. Thankfully, the class-action mechanism allows groups of people to obtain justice for such widespread abuses in a single lawsuit.”

The named plaintiffs, on behalf of the putative classes of former KNR clients, are also represented by Dean Williams of the Pattakos Law Firm in Fairlawn, Ohio, and Joshua Cohen and Ellen Kramer, of Cohen Rosenthal and Kramer in Cleveland. A copy of the plaintiffs’ recently filed motion for leave to file a fourth amended complaint, detailing the claims against Dr. Ghoubrial, is available here and more information about the other pending claims in the suit is available here.

Anyone with information or concerns about alleged fraudulent conduct by KNR is encouraged to contact attorney Peter Pattakos by phone at 330.836.8533 or by email at info@pattakoslaw.com.