Bloomberg News

Accretive Health Lawyer Claims Minnesota Acted in Bad Faith

May 02, 2012

An Accretive Health Inc. (AH:US) lawyer accused Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson of negotiating in bad faith before suing the company in January and of disclosing its confidential data in an April 24 report.

Accretive shares fell nearly 42 percent one day after Swanson issued her six-part report critical of the Chicago-based company’s collections practices. Her federal lawsuit accused Accretive of breaching patient privacy laws.

The company on April 30 asked U.S. District Judge Richard H. Kyle in St. Paul, Minnesota, to dismiss the case, calling it “factually baseless and legally indefensible.”

“The AG’s office ignored its responsibility to get the facts straight,” outside counsel Andrew B. Clubok, a partner in the Chicago-based law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP said in his 7- page letter today.

Clubok alleged that his client only provided data he said was relied upon by Swanson in her April 24 report, “in order to explore a good faith resolution” to the lawsuit.

In her initial and amended federal court complaints, Swanson challenged the company’s work for Minnesota-based Fairview Health Services and North Memorial Health Care.

In her subsequent report, she alleged that Accretive improperly posted debt collectors in hospital emergency rooms and patient bedsides.

Compliance Review

Clubok said his client rejected Swanson’s insinuation that it was an “uber debt collector,” using a German word that translates to “super,” when individual collections comprise less than 10 percent of Accretive’s business.

Benjamin Wogsland, a spokesman for Swanson, said in a statement that the attorney general’s report -- formally called a compliance review -- is “accurate and documented by the facts.” Accretive’s emergency room and bedside collections practices were related by hospital patients, he said.

“There is an old saying among lawyers,” Wogsland said, “‘if the facts aren’t on your side, talk about the law. If the law’s not on your side, talk about the facts. And if you don’t have either on your side, pound the table and blame someone else. That’s what’s going on here.”

The attorney general’s case is State of Minnesota v. Accretive Health Inc., 12-cv-00145, U.S. District Court for Minnesota (St. Paul).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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