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Universal Health Care Faces WARN Act Suit From Ex-Workers

By: Nathan Hale
Posted: March 29, 2013
Law360.com

Two former employees of Universal Health Care Group Inc. have filed a * class action in bankruptcy court against the Florida-based health care company, claiming that it failed to give notice it was terminating them as required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

The suit, filed * in Tampa, Fla., may not have been the day's worst development for the company, as FBI and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agents executed search warrants at its St. Petersburg offices in connection with an investigation into possible fraud and mismanagement, according to the Associated Press.

The company, whose affiliates provide Medicare Advantage Health Plans, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Feb. 6. It has been accused by the state Department of Insurance Regulation of financial irregularities and possible fraud, according to the AP.

Affiliates Universal Health Care Inc. and Universal Health Care Insurance Company Inc. were ordered into receivership earlier this month by a Leon County Circuit Court judge for the purposes of liquidation, according to documents on the company's website. The court ordered cancellation of those affiliates' active policies as of April 1.

Universal Health Care did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

The * class action stems from former Universal Health Care workers Sabrina De La Concha and Tom Toups' claim that the company terminated their employment without cause as part of a mass layoff March 28 without providing 60 days advanced notice or 60 days wages and benefits as required by the WARN Act.

The plaintiffs are seeking a * claim for the class for unpaid wages, commissions, bonuses, accrued holiday and vacation pay, pension and 401(k) contributions, and other COBRA benefits they would have received for the 60-day period.

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The class is described as any former Universal Health Care employees who worked at the company's facilities and was terminated without cause within 30 days of March 28.

The complaint says the company had more than 100 employees and that the March 28 layoffs resulted in the termination of at least 50 Universal Health Care employees as well as 33 percent of the company's work force at its offices, excluding part-time employees.

Universal Health Care Group was founded in Florida in 2002 by Dr. A.K. Desai, a licensed geriatrician and practicing physician, according to company information. It served more than 191,000 members in 19 states.

The plaintiffs are represented by Roger Haughey and C. Read Sawczyn of Sivyer Barlow & Watson PA and Jack A. Raisner and Rene S. Roupinian of Outten & Golden LLP.

The adversary proceeding is De La Concha et al. v. Universal Health Care Group Inc., case number 8:13-ap-00273, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida.

The bankruptcy is In re: Universal Health Care Group Inc., case number 8:13-bk-01520, in the same court.

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