Lawsuit Hits Nerve for Former Friends Fighting Over Medical Fees Earned

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Sep. 1, 2014 12:00 am  

Erdem said he didn’t know that practice was going on. He continued to work at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science and wasn’t listed as a provider for many of the insurance companies that Schlesinger’s companies billed.

“Because of this deceptive billing,” Erdem said that he doesn’t know — and can’t know — the exact amount of the money he brought into the Schlesinger’s practice and how much he should have been paid.

The allegation of impersonating another doctor for billing purposes is a new one for the Arkansas Insurance Department’s Criminal Investigation Division. Investigators “couldn’t remember ever receiving a complaint of a doctor billing under another doctor’s name because the first doctor was out of network,” AID spokeswoman Alice Jones said in an email statement to Arkansas Business last week.

Friends Working Together

The friendship between Erdem and Schlesinger started in 2001. They grew so close that before Schlesinger had a heart procedure done, he asked Erdem to take care of his only daughter if anything were to happen to him. Erdem treated Schlesinger’s mother and didn’t charge her because “they were like family,” according to the lawsuit.

Erdem is one of two board-certified interventional neuroradiologists in Arkansas. Schlesinger owns or has the majority ownership of the Legacy Neurosurgery Clinic and Arkansas Neurosurgery Clinic.

In July 2008, Schlesinger asked Erdem to help him with spinal injections and other procedures at the clinics. According to Erdem’s complaint, Schlesinger agreed to pay Erdem his physician collections, minus a “small amount” for overhead.

Because they were such close friends, they didn’t put the terms in writing.

Joshua Silverstein, a professor of law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Bowen School of Law, told Arkansas Business last week that an agreement doesn’t have to be written down to be legally enforceable.

“Now, it’s a lot more difficult to prove the agreement existed if it’s not in writing, so written agreements are more likely to be enforced because of the issue of proof,” said Silverstein, who teaches contracts and other commercial law subjects.

He also said it’s better to have an agreement in writing because the parties don’t have to rely on their memories as to the terms of the agreement.

Erdem started working just half a day a week for Schlesinger, but soon he was working a full day a week or more at Schlesinger’s clinics.

 

 

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