Posted 4/7/2014 12:00 am
A high-testosterone legal battle was settled Wednesday between low-testosterone treatment clinics in Little Rock.
Servant Healthcare P.A. sued Arkansas Urology P.A. of Little Rock in February over the opening of Arkansas Urology’s testosterone therapy clinic, Epoch Health – North Little Rock PLLC.
Servant Healthcare alleged its former chief business development officer, Mike Whitfield, breached his contract by working with Arkansas Urology to support Epoch in North Little Rock, according to a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Little Rock.
Whitfield denied the allegation in an affidavit filed in the case. He also said he doesn’t have any involvement in the North Little Rock location.
The terms of the settlement were confidential, said Arkansas Urology’s attorney Dan Herrington of Little Rock.
“But we worked everything out to everybody’s satisfaction,” he said.
Herrington said most of the dispute was “a big misunderstanding, and once the lawyers got involved … it was a lot easier to resolve things.”
The story of the feud begins in the summer of 2013, when Servant and its owner, Dr. Jeremy Warford, considered partnering or merging with Arkansas Urology, according to Servant’s lawsuit. Warford and his development officer, Whitfield, opened the clinic in August 2012 under the name Epoch Health.
But on Oct. 1, Warford told Dr. Tim Langford, the president of Arkansas Urology, that he didn’t think they could reach a deal.
Within days, Whitfield, who owned the intellectual property rights of Epoch Health, announced his last day with Servant would be Nov. 3. Whitfield planned to sell the name of Epoch to Arkansas Urology and go to work for the company, the lawsuit said.
Errol Davis, the CEO of Arkansas Urology, said in an affidavit filed in the case that Arkansas Urology was planning to create a clinic to treat low-testosterone patients, even if it didn’t buy assets from Whitfield or Servant.
Arkansas Urology “already had a thriving Low-T practice and possessed the clinical expertise and know-how to establish its own stand-alone Low-T clinics,” Davis wrote.
Meanwhile in October, Warford changed the name of the clinic from Epoch to Apex Men’s Health and began a marketing campaign to announce the name, which didn’t make Whitfield happy.
“Whitfield feared that AU would consider the ‘Epoch Health’ trademark less valuable after the public became aware of the name change,” the lawsuit said.
So Whitfield allegedly went on Apex’s website on Oct. 26 and wrote that the name of the clinic hadn’t changed, Servant’s lawsuit said.
“Epoch now is partnering with a prestigious and renowned medical group,” the posting said. The partnership Whitfield mentioned was between him and Arkansas Urology.
In November, Whitfield sold Epoch’s intellectual property to Arkansas Urology for approximately $50,000 and went to work for the company as its director of business development and marketing, the lawsuit said.
Also in November, Arkansas Urology bought an existing low-testosterone therapy clinic called Encore in North Little Rock, which had about 70 patients, Davis said in his affidavit. And after it bought Epoch’s name from Whitfield, Encore changed its name to Epoch.
In court filings, Arkansas Urology denied the allegations of wrongdoing.
“Arkansas Urology did not ‘conspire’ or plot with Mike Whitfield to violate the restrictive covenant with Servant,” Davis said. “Instead, it attempted to honor it.”