Healthcare Business News

UHS wins $6.89 million verdict against ex-employees, Acadia Healthcare

By Beth Kutscher
Posted: December 22, 2012 - 12:01 am ET

Universal Health Services, King of Prussia, Pa., has won a $6.89 million jury verdict against five former employees and the company they now work for, Acadia Healthcare, Franklin, Tenn.

Publicly traded UHS filed suit in October 2011, charging the defendants with violating noncompete agreements and misappropriating confidential information.

The five executives named in the suit formerly worked for Horizon Health Corp., a subsidiary of Psychiatric Solutions, which UHS acquired in 2010 for $3.1 billion.

Acadia is also the latest venture for Joey Jacobs, Psychiatric Solutions' former CEO. The suit alleged that the employees set up an Acadia subsidiary—Psychiatric Research Partners—that essentially mirrors what Horizon does, after diverting Horizon sales leads that they later pursued for Acadia.

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Both sides will file motions to either ask the judge to enter the verdict, making it legally binding, or to oppose it. After the verdict is entered, the defendants can appeal.

“No judgment has been entered, and we remain confident in our position,” Stephen Roppolo, an attorney for Acadia, said in an e-mail.

Acadia did not return a phone call for comment.

Victor Vital, an attorney for UHS, noted that the verdict came out of a conservative county, the 16th Judicial District Court in Denton County, Texas. “To walk out of the courthouse with a $6.9 million verdict … is a pretty remarkable result.”

He noted that the case was “litigated in a very heated manner,” and added that the outcome “speaks volumes” about the “egregious nature” of the loyalty breaches.

UHS won against all six defendants on all causes of action, he noted.

In a statement, Marc Miller, president of UHS, said the company is pleased by the jury's verdict and hopes "that it sends a message about the appropriate conduct of business and commitment to ethics and integrity.”

The former Horizon employees are: Michael Saul, former president; Timothy Palus, former senior VP of operations; Peter Ulasewicz, former senior VP of development; Barbara Bayma, former senior VP of clinical practice; and John Piechocki, former VP of business development.

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