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LifeBrite Labs Sues Insurers for $1B, Alleging False Fraud Accusations Ruined Company

NEW YORK – Atlanta-based LifeBrite Laboratories said Friday that it filed a lawsuit against several private insurers asking for more than $1 billion in damages and accusing them of making false allegations that ruined the lab's reputation.

The firm and its owner, Christian Fletcher, filed the complaint in the State Court of Gwinnett County, Georgia, against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, Elevance Health, Anthem Insurance Companies, UnitedHealthcare, and CVS Health, which owns Aetna. None of the companies accused in the lawsuit immediately responded to a request for comment.

LifeBrite's lawsuit follows a jury acquittal of Fletcher in March of federal charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. In that indictment filed in US District Court for the Middle District of Florida, prosecutors had accused him and nine other individuals of conspiring to defraud payors through false billing claims for screening tests and confirmatory tests to detect recent drug or alcohol use among people who were receiving treatment for substance abuse.

The criminal charges were related to accusations of improper pass-through billing by rural hospitals and LifeBrite. According to the indictment, LifeBrite conducted drug tests on individuals throughout the US and worked with co-conspirators at rural hospitals to bill for those tests as though they had been performed at the hospitals.

But in the complaint filed on July 20, LifeBrite said the claims were submitted by or on behalf of those hospitals using a code that accurately represented that the testing had been performed on behalf of non-patients who had not presented to the hospitals. The firm also said the payors' agreements with the hospitals did not prohibit pass-through billing.

LifeBrite and Fletcher are accusing the defendants of making false claims that ruined LifeBrite's business and reputation. In its complaint, the plaintiffs said that LifeBrite was in the process of selling its business at a valuation of more than $400 million when the accusations sunk the deal and diminished its revenues to a fraction of what they had been.

LifeBrite attorney Skip Miller said in a statement that the payors instigated Fletcher's prosecution, and the company plans to hold them accountable. LifeBrite is seeking a jury trial.