Posts Tagged ‘Gulfstream MediGroup’

Sun-Sentinel shines light on how plaintiff attorneys abuse PIP

Monday, January 17th, 2011

The Sun-Sentinel has exposed how Florida’s plaintiff attorneys exploit Personal Injury Protection (PIP) lawsuits in a front-page investigative report published Jan.16.

The Fort Lauderdale-based newspaper shows that plaintiff PIP lawyers collect huge court fees for themselves and force all drivers to pay higher insurance premiums.

We thank the Sun-Sentinel for exposing attorneys who abuse the legal system. The public needs to know that their PIP insurance premiums are going to pay off greedy plaintiff lawyers.

The lengthy article and accompanying stories document how plaintiff lawyers have charged as much as $500 an hour while arguing in court that their clients were due as little as 1 cent.

“Lawyers and other people in this field have found ways to make some money here,” the article quoted Florida Deputy Insurance Commissioner Belinda Miller as saying. “The lawsuits are increasing because this has become a fairly well-oiled machine on the side of the people that bring those cases, and it’s lucrative.”

How lucrative? The Sun-Sentinel uncovered a PIP lawsuit against UAIC in which a Miami-Dade attorney received $13,370 in fees while winning only $2.53 for his client. UAIC appealed and won.

Another lawyer collected just $2,000 for his client and took home $160,000 for himself in a PIP lawsuit, the article reported.

It’s our view that plaintiff attorneys are running PIP mills. The article says one attorney in Broward County has filed 3,300 lawsuits in 5 years. Those numbers are ridiculous.

The article also found that Gulfstream Medigroup of Palm Beach Gardens had filed almost 1,200 PIP lawsuits through early November, and that attorney Brian LaBovick owns Gulfstream while having his law firm handle the lawsuits.

LaBovick is essentially double-dipping, we think, putting court awards in one pocket and legal fees in the other.

The rising costs from PIP lawsuits and big attorney fees are hurting Florida drivers, the Sun-Sentinel article said.

“The cost of this coverage is going up,” deputy insurance commissioner Miller told the newspaper. “I think it’s going to be hard to keep insurance affordable to everybody.”

We say it’s time to do something about the problem. When the legislature meets in March, it must pass laws that give drivers much-needed financial relief.

UAIC to LaBovick: Let’s get to truth on PIP lawsuits

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Our report on April 13 that LaBovick & LaBovick was filing hundreds of small-dollar lawsuits in Broward County apparently got the attention of the law firm and its managing shareholder, Brian F. LaBovick. Don’t think he caught United Automobile Insurance Company (UAIC) in the act of something devious, as the headline of his blog post would suggest. We were the ones who lifted the veil on his operations. Now, he is howling about “bringing the insurance giant to justice” in an April 27 blog post.

Thanks to our enterprising work, Mr. LaBovick now admits in his blog post that his firm has flooded the Broward courts with at least 1,000 lawsuits that are Personal Injury Protection (PIP) related. He also acknowledges that the plaintiff in every case is a company he controls, Gulfstream Medigroup. And Mr. LaBovick also admits that many of the lawsuits are for small sums of money.

Mr. LaBovick has a lot to say in his post about how he thinks his firm is undertaking a noble effort. He says his firm stands up for the rights of doctors and medical providers. There is a big problem with his argument: the doctors and medical providers he claims he is standing up for are not the ones filing suit and claiming they have been underpaid.

Mr. LaBovick also raises the question, “How much is the ‘right amount’ to be ripped off before a doctor sues?” Sadly, he has no numbers or statistics to back up the claim that anyone has been cheated. In reality, Mr. Labovick is filing lawsuits for bills that were previously paid in full, or were paid at an amount that the medical clinic accepted as full and final payment.  In one case, UAIC erroneously paid the medical clinic twice for the same services, with both checks cashed by the provider, and the LaBovick firm still filed a lawsuit claiming UAIC underpaid!  These are the numbers and statistics that will come out in court.

If you want to talk about rip-offs, cite numbers, such as the fact that the Florida Department of Insurance Fraud gets as many tips about PIP fraud as all other types of insurance fraud combined. Or read about the busts of medical clinics that excessively overcharge, submit bills for services never rendered, or treat people who stage accidents. Those people are the criminals who Mr. LaBovick should be criticizing.

So, Mr. LaBovick, let’s get down to what this is really about: your legal fees. In every case, LaBovick & LaBovick is seeking the same thing: attorney’s fees from insurance companies like UAIC.  If it weren’t about the attorney’s fees, then the lawsuits would have never been filed.  Why else would Mr. Labovick file a lawsuit for an alleged underpayment of $3.89 when it costs a minimum of $55 to file the suit?

Gulfstream Medigroup and LaBovick & LaBovick (which, of course, are one and the same) are just another group in a long line of attorneys that are out to milk Florida’s no-fault PIP system for exorbitant attorney’s fees.  This is a game to them, and the ones who ultimately pay are taxpayers and honest Florida drivers. The game needs to end.

‘Notorius’ law firm disliked for PIP lawsuits in Broward County

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Money cannot buy a good reputation, or so it seems for LaBovick & LaBovick, a Palm Beach Gardens law firm that’s unpopular in Broward County for the hundreds of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) lawsuits it has filed. The Palm Beach Post reports that the law firm has raised the ire of not just United Automobile Insurance Corp. (UAIC) Its penny-ante tactics have angered Allstate Insurance and its attorney.

To the fans of SunFest, though, LaBovick & LaBovick may seem like a good corporate citizen. The law firm sponsored a stage at the music and arts festival that took place in West Palm Beach the first week of May.

However, appearances are deceptive. We broke the news that LaBovick & LaBovick had clogged the Broward courthouse with hundreds of lawsuits for amounts as little $3.89 using a billing company it owns as its plaintiff. In essence, the law firm has created its own client that buys billings from medical clinics.

“They’re looking to shake us down for legal fees,” Richard Parrillo Sr., founder and CEO of UAIC, told the Post. “It’s all about the fees.”

Attorneys routinely are paid upwards of $300 per hour for filing paperwork, UAIC found in an inspection of court records. Fees can total tens of thousands of dollars even if the client collects only a few dollars.

Some judges are rejecting LaBovick’s flood of lawsuits, which now total more than 1,200. According to the Post article, Broward County Court Judge Robert Lee has thrown out six cases LaBovick filed, ruling Allstate calculated reimbursement rates correctly. LaBovick vowed to appeal. The insurance company’s attorney is confident Judge Lee’s rulings will be upheld.

Lawsuit-happy firm in Palm Beach files PIP court claim for $3.89

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Little lawsuits. Littler lawsuits.

It’s just another day at the Broward County courthouse for Gulfstream MediGroup. The Palm Beach-based firm has become a litigation machine, filing more than 300 lawsuits in Broward County’s courts in both January and February 2010, according to public records. That’s equivalent to one every half-hour the main courthouse was open.

In the last three months of 2009, Gulfstream MediGroup filed 435 lawsuits against companies that insure drivers, according to public records. Among them, a claim for $3.89, plus legal bills for its exclusive law firm, LaBovick & LaBovick. The CEO of Gulfstream MediGroup, Brian F. LaBovick, is also the managing shareholder at LaBovick & LaBovick, which specializes in PIP litigation. The law firm and its automobile claims collection firm operate at the same address on Hood Road in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

The plaintiff lawyers who supposedly represent insured drivers are now getting into the litigation business just for themselves. In all of these cases, the driver and his or her medical provider were bought off a long time ago. Now it’s just the plaintiff lawyers and their captive billing agency down the hall.

Gulfstream MediGroup sued UAIC in December 2009 for an accident that the UAIC-insured driver said took place three years earlier. Since that time, the driver has signed over her claim to Hallandale Open MRI in Hallandale, Fla. That company, in turn, has signed over all its insurance claims from 2004 to 2007 to Gulfstream MediGroup in an undated document.

The lawsuit claims that UAIC underpaid a PIP-related claim by $3.89 and seeks to recover that amount for Gulfstream MediGroup, plus attorneys’ fees for LaBovick & LaBovick. A recent survey of attorneys’ fees in PIP cases found that many attorneys charge between $300 and $400 an hour for filing legal paperwork in Broward County courts.

From our point of view, it just doesn’t make sense to tie up the courts for a measly $3.89 so that an attorney can take home tens of thousands of dollars in fees. This is an abuse of the justice system. Gulfstream MediGroup is just dumping hundreds of lawsuits at the Broward courthouse. The firm is demanding that taxpayers and, ultimately, insured drivers pay for them.