New Regulations a Pain in the Neck for Chiropractic 'Runners'

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 12:00 am  

Chiropractor Heath Lenox used runner Roger Pleasant and his companies to persuade auto accident victims to come to Lenox’s clinic in Little Rock. Lenox stopped using Pleasant and his companies on June 25. | (Photo by Mark Friedman)

For years, attempts to curb the “runners” who persuade auto accident victims to seek treatment from a particular chiropractor have failed — until now.

A combination of regulation and enforcement has begun to chip away at the lucrative business plan that has generated so many complaints that the Arkansas State Board of Chiropractic Examiners had to add another full-time staff position.

State legislation that took effect a year ago requires runners, officially known as “procurers,” to register with the board and disclose which chiropractors are paying for their services. In its wake:

  • The board agreed in February to spend $10,000 on two private investigators to look into complaints about runners.
  • The board used an April hearing into a complaint against Sherwood chiropractor Mark Varley to ask questions about the tactics of a runner whose pitch had fooled even an attorney. Varley was found not guilty of unprofessional conduct.
  • On June 23, shortly after the board announced that it would hire a third employee “particularly [because of] complaints involving chiropractic procurers,” Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel sued longtime runner Roger Pleasant of Maumelle, his employees and several of his businesses for deceptive trade practices.

The lawsuit attacks the business model of combing through police reports for names, addresses and phone numbers of people involved in auto accidents and then persuading them to visit a chiropractor who may be paying the runner up to $600 per patient.

  • Two days after McDaniel’s office filed the complaint in Pulaski County Circuit Court, chiropractors Heath Lenox of Little Rock and Daniel Scott Morris of North Little Rock stopped using Pleasant and his companies as procurers, according to the registration record that the chiropractic board started to keep last August.
  • Lenox, whose use of Pleasant and his companies racked up the single largest number of complaints pending when the board last met on July 24, has agreed to a $24,000 fine and three years of probation with the licensing board.

“To me, it’s a consumer protection issue,” said Fort Smith attorney Joey McCutcheon, who has been advocating limits on runners for years. “Oftentimes, folks are preyed on who really don’t know that the decisions that they’re making are really going to hurt them in the long run. And the only people who are benefiting are the runner and the chiropractor.”

Even the state association of chiropractors has wanted to rein in the practice.

“We’re all working toward the same goal, which is to make sure that people aren’t being misled or taken advantage of when they’re in a vulnerable state,” said Robbie Wills of Conway, an attorney and lobbyist for the Arkansas Chiropractic Physicians Association.

‘Deceptive Tactics’ Alleged

In its first lawsuit against a chiropractic runner, the AG’s office is seeking an injunction against Roger Pleasant and his businesses, which operate under names that include PSG & Investigation LLC, Accident Claim Service LLC, Physician 1st Marketing Group LLC and Network Collision Group LLC.

The lawsuit also names Pleasant’s son, Rogerick Pleasant, and James “Jimmy” Hinton and Brian Hinton, both of Little Rock. The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages.

“These chiropractic runners use many deceptive tactics in their attempts to force a consumer to seek chiropractic treatment,” McDaniel said in a news release announcing the lawsuit. “They may pose [as] insurance agents or claims adjusters and may call at all hours of the day or night.”

Roger Pleasant’s attorney, Willard Proctor Jr. of Little Rock, has asked that the lawsuit be dismissed because it was filled with generalities and no specific information such as the names of the victims or when the alleged acts took place.

 

 

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