Aliera & Sharity Ministries Insurance Scam and Bankruptcies
Mehri & Skalet – with co-counsel Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger, Myers & Company and several firms across the country – launched class action lawsuits against Aliera and Sharity Ministries (formerly known as Trinity Healthshare) for selling thousands of health plans nationwide that are non-compliant with state and federal law.
The allegations include that both companies refused to pay claims for health benefits that would otherwise be covered under state and/or federal law, violated consumer protection acts and issued illegal policies and plans that failed to include certain required benefits.
In July 2021, against the backdrop of the legal team’s victories and adverse findings by state insurance regulators, Sharity Ministries filed for bankruptcy in Delaware and will eventually be liquidated. This leaves thousands of people without health insurance and with massive unpaid medical bills. As a result, their remedies now lie in the bankruptcy proceeding. The Sharity Liquidating Trustee has since retained Mehri & Skalet and co-counsel.
After securing default judgments of more than $25 million in Washington and Kentucky’s federal courts, in early December 2021, Mehri & Skalet and co-counsel began involuntary bankruptcy proceedings against Aliera in Delaware. One month later, Mehri & Skalet and co-counsel successfully defeated Aliera’s complicated legal maneuvering to go through the bankruptcy process in Georgia.
Comedian John Oliver did a segment explaining how Health Care Sharing Ministries can fail their customers and spotlighting the complaints against Aliera and Sharity Ministries. Mehri & Skalet and co-counsel continue to hold the companies accountable to those they defrauded.
Non-Profit Whistleblower Results in $537,500 False Claims Act Settlement
Mehri & Skalet and Alden Law Group successfully assisted a public health whistleblower in filing a qui tam complaint on behalf of The United States of America under the Federal False Claims Act (FCA) against global health non-profit Project Concern International (PCI). Earlier this month, PCI agreed to pay $537,500 to settle the False Claims Act action.
The whistleblower alerted the government to claims that PCI mischarged the time staff spent on government grants, including using some grant funds to cover costs of privately-funded projects. PCI managers instructed PCI headquarters staff to mischarge time to U.S. government grant programs, and they refused to accept timesheets based upon the work actually done. The whistleblower’s repeated questioning of PCI’s timekeeping practices and refusal to engage resulted in bullying and harassment on the job.
Ultimately, the whistleblower resigned rather than continue to work in a hostile environment.
PCI’s settlement payment of $537,500 includes reimbursement for the estimated amount of mischarged costs as well as an additional penalty under the False Claims Act. PCI also agreed to pay the whistleblower’s attorney’s fees. The whistleblower will receive a relator’s share of the government’s recovery.
Mehri & Skalet Joins Circle City Broadcasting’s Litigation Team as Co-Counsel
Mehri & Skalet recently joined Circle City Broadcasting’s litigation team to provide counsel to their race discrimination lawsuits against DISH Network and AT&T/DirecTV.
DuJuan McCoy, Circle City Broadcasting’s owner, President and CEO, alleges that DISH Network and AT&T/DirecTV racially discriminated against the Indiana-based television company. Mr. McCoy, a Black man, argues that DISH Network and AT&T/DirecTV’s refusal to pay fair market value fees for the same retransmission rights that they paid prior owners resulted in intentional, unfair treatment for Circle City compared to the non-Black owned predecessors.
“When you see a highly government-regulated industry like broadcasting have only 1.3% of total commercial TV broadcast stations be Black-owned, that’s already an issue,” said Cyrus Mehri. “To then have a rare Black-owned and operated broadcast television company like Circle City Broadcasting be singled out for adverse treatment is grounds for concern about discriminatory conduct.”