Cerebral, the controversial mental telehealth startup, filed a lawsuit in New York on Monday alleging that founder Kyle Robertson never repaid a loan the company gave him for nearly $50 million.
Cerebral alleges it lent Robertson $49,768,453.79 on Jan 24, 2022, allowing him to purchase nearly 1.06 million shares of Cerebral stock. According to a filing in the New York State Supreme Court for the County of New York, Cerebral alleges Robertson is liable for more than $25 million or 51% of the loan principal amount, plus interest and attorney’s fees.
The company alleges Robertson was to pay off the loan if his time as CEO were to end for any reason within six months of that termination date. Robertson was pushed out of the company in mid-May after mounting criticism of the startup's prescribing practices for ADHD, including three lawsuits by former employees and a federal investigation.
Cerebral alleges that after Robertson was gone as CEO, he said he would not repay the loan.
Robertson did not respond to a request for comment. Neither a Cerebral spokesperson nor an attorney representing the company were immediately available for comment.
The filing follows a letter Robertson sent last week demanding access to the company records in advance of a potential lawsuit. In the letter, Robertson accused the company’s investors of pushing him to sell controlled medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and then using him as a scapegoat amid public blowback.
Last week, the company’s CEO, Dr. David Mou, said he was not focused on the scathing letter sent by Robertson, his former colleague, directed to the company’s executive team and investors.
“It’s a distraction. I’m looking forward,” Mou said in an interview at the HLTH conference in Las Vegas. “I’m here to take care of our patients.”
The contents of Robertson's letter were first reported by Business Insider.
A Cerebral spokesperson said the claims laid out by Robertson were untrue and the company intends to defend itself vigorously if a complaint were filed.
Since Robertson’s departure, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission reportedly sent a letter to Cerebral requesting information on whether the company has continued to charge patients even after they’ve attempted to cancel their subscription.
Amid the controversy, the company stopped prescribing Adderall and Ritalin in May. At the time Mou said he was saddened by the decision, as he considered them legitimate first-line treatment for patients with ADHD. Cerebral still prescribes suboxone, a controlled substance for opioid use disorder, Mou said.
This story first appeared in Digital Health Business & Technology.