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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Eye Doctor Claims Chain Store Overbooks

READING, Pa. (CN) - An optometrist claims that one of the country's largest optical retailers is "dangerously over-booking exams" and illegally impinging on its optometrists' professional judgment to maximize profit. National Vision, which has 229 outlets in Wal-Marts across the country, does not allow "enough time to properly care for patients that have recently received contacts, had cataract extractions, or other surgeries requiring post-op care," Dr. James Johnson claims in Berks County Court.

Johnson says he has maintained a practice at one of National Vision's outlets since 1993. He claims the Lawrenceville, Ga.-based company's suboccupancy agreements illegally control optometrists by establishing master-servant relationships that violate the prohibition against practicing optometry without a license. The suboccupancy agreements provide optometrists space to conduct exams in "The Vision Center(s)" inside Wal Marts.

Only recently, in the wake of a bankruptcy filing, has the company begun intensively enforcing the agreements, cramming optometrists' schedules in an effort to increase revenue, Johnson says.

He also claims that National Vision is wrongfully terminating his suboccupancy agreement though he has not defaulted.

Johnson demands that National Vision rescind its termination notice and stop interfering with his 10,000-plus patient practice. He is represented by Joseph O'Keefe with O'Keefe & Sher of Kutztown, Pa.

The only defendant in the case is National Vision. It is the fourth-largest optical retailer in the United States, employing more than 4,400 people at more than 500 outlets in 44 states, according to the complaint. It also has outlets inside Fred Meyer department stores and on military bases.

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