A jury ruled that UnitedHealthcare must pay out $60 million in punitive damages after losing a Nevada lawsuit against physician services company TeamHealth over provider underpayments.
The jury awarded Tennessee-based TeamHealth $2 million in compensatory damages Nov. 29, but TeamHealth also requested the jury consider upward of $100 million in punitive damages, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
"The only thing they understand, the only thing [UnitedHealthcare] understands is money," TeamHealth attorney John Zavitsanos told the jury before deliberations, according to a news release from Dolcefino Communications, an investigative media consulting firm that has been following the trial. "If you don't whack them on these punitives … this ain't changing."
UnitedHealthcare said it plans to appeal the award, according to the Review-Journal.
"Everyone agrees healthcare costs too much, and today's decision only adds to the problem," UnitedHealthcare spokesperson Dustin Clark told the Review-Journal. "We will be appealing this decision immediately in order to protect our customers and members from private equity-backed physician staffing companies who demand unreasonable and anticompetitive rates for their services and drive up the cost of care for everyone."
TeamHealth and UnitedHealthcare are battling over similar claims in several other states.