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Pahrump doctors could get their day in court

Horace Langford Jr./Pahrump Valley Times file Dr Tali Arik and Julie Woodward as seen at their ...
Horace Langford Jr./Pahrump Valley Times file Dr Tali Arik and Julie Woodward as seen at their former Pahrump Cardiology & Family Practice.

A Nye County judge has agreed to hear claims from two Pahrump health clinicians who say their deal with P3 Health Partners Inc. soured just months after the Las Vegas-based care provider acquired their Calvada Boulevard practice in a multi-million dollar acquisition last year.

Fifth Judicial District Court Judge Kimberly Wanker ruled earlier this month that Dr. Tali Arik and Julie Woodward could proceed to sue P3 for breach of contract, according to Stephen Castronova, the Reno-based attorney for the Pahrump clinicians.

“The court did dismiss the cause of action for financial elder abuse stating that the statute was not intended to cover this type of claim,” Castronova told the Pahrump Valley Times, but he said the judge found that the clinicians do have grounds to sue for “breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and unfair trade practices.”

A hearing date has not been set, but Castronova said he expects the judge will not hear the case until 2024 at the earliest, unless a settlement is reached before then.

P3 officials had asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed against them in January, which alleges the company failed to meet several terms of its purchasing agreement with Arik and Woodward.

“We respect Judge Wanker’s ruling regarding the limited matters which were the subject of the hearing and remain confident that we will prevail in this dispute once the court is presented with the facts of this case,” Sherif Abdou, CEO of P3 Health told the Pahrump Valley Times on Tuesday afternoon.

Nine months after P3 acquired two Calvada Boulevard clinics in a $13.8 million deal, the company announced it would close the Pahrump sites, and discontinue cardiology, family medicine and urgent care services there.

Abdou told the PVT in March that “soon after purchasing the practice that there were some irregularities and inconsistencies in the operations and systems that did not meet our standards or values.”

“We would have preferred to work through the issues with the doctors directly,” Abdou said at the time.

P3 administrators issued notices earlier this year to roughly 7,000 former and current patients about the closure.

The provider retained partnerships with two primary care groups in Pahrump: Goodheart Medical Group and Spring Mountain Medical Center.

Lawsuit claims: P3 gutted operations in Pahrump

Under terms of the multi-million dollar buyout between P3 and Pahrump Cardiology, P3 reportedly paid more than $5 million upfront to acquire the Calvada clinics.

Dr. Arik was supposed to continue treating patients there, the lawsuit claims.

Woodward was to supervise the clinics and serve as an administrator under the deal, while receiving up to $8.8 million in “earnouts” over the next several years as the practice grew, according to the lawsuit.

But soon after P3 took over operations, Dr. Arik, who had previously served patients in Pahrump for more than 15 years before opening his own clinic here in 2019, claims he was “no longer scheduled to examine and treat his patients,” according to the lawsuit.

Instead, the lawsuit claims his duties were contracted out to Heart Center of Nevada, which operates a number of care centers in the Las Vegas Valley.

“This transition not only deprived Arik of his life’s work, but it also made it impossible for Arik to convert his base of patients from Medicare to Humana, which was an integral component of his ability to realize the earnouts,” according to the lawsuit.

Following the P3 takeover, Woodward was “essentially relieved of all of her administrative functions, duties and was stripped of all authority,” the lawsuit claims.

P3 also quickly eliminated diagnostic testing at its Calvada clinics, including the Cardiac PET scans, which accounted for about 40 percent of the clinic’s annual revenue, according to the lawsuit. P3 cut half of the clinic’s primary staff after its takeover, the lawsuit claims, and ended pain-management services, pulmonary function testing and allergy testing there.

Dr. Arik, 68, is further alleging age discrimination and claims in the lawsuit that P3’s plans were “designed with the intention of permanently depriving [him] of his money, assets and/or property.”

Contact Editor Brent Schanding at bschanding@pvtimes.com.

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