INDIO, Calif. (CN) – Staples threatened to fire 29 employees if they sought treatment from a particular medical office, and told its workers, falsely, that the physicians were being investigated for fraud, the doctors office says.
The Morrow Institute Medical Group, of Rancho Mirage, says Staples did that even though its workers had received despite pre-authorization from their insurer, nonparty Blue Cross.
The Morrow Institute (TMI) claims that Blue Cross agreed that 29 Staples employees who sought treatment from Morrow that was medically necessary. It claims that Staples and co-defendant Rolienne Muyargas, head of Staples’ Distribution Center in Rialto, “told TMI’s patients not to have their surgeries at TMI by falsely accusing TMI of engaging in improper conduct.”
The doctors claim that in September this year, Staples and Muyargas “began calling TMI patients into Staples’ human resources department located in Rialto, California. … Defendants informed these TMI patients that TMI was under investigation for fraud. Defendants told these TMI patients that their insurance would not pay for medical procedures that these TMI patients received from TMI even though Blue Cross had already pre-authorized these procedures as being medically necessary. Defendants further suggested that these TMI patients could lose their hobs at Staples if these TMI patients had their medical procedures performed by TMI. Finally, defendants instructed these TMI patients that the information disclosed in this meeting was in strict confidence and to be shared with no one. Through these meetings with TMI’s patients, defendants have engaged in harassing and intimidating behavior towards TMI’s patients.”
The Morrow Institute says the 24 of its 29 Staples patients “will no longer speak to TMI.” It adds that two patients “still want to schedule their procedures but are too afraid to do so right now based on their meetings with Staples’ human resources department.”
The Morrow Institute was established in 1988. It claims that Staples’ insurance coverage allows its employees to be treated, and covered, by out-of-network doctors’ offices.
In its complaint in Riverside County Court, the institute does not state explicitly whether it is out of the Blue Cross network, or whether the services it provides would cost Staples more than a network provider.
Morrow demands that Staples and Muyargas be enjoined from discouraging employees from seeking its services, and restitution and damages for intentional interference with contract.
It is represented by Michael Houske with Hooper, Lundy & Bookman of Los Angeles.