LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Wednesday, Oct. 27, that she is filing a lawsuit against Med-Care Health Link for failing to provide $10 million worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).
According to Rutledge, in March and April of 2020, UAMS paid Virginia-based company, Med-Care Health Link, a total of $10,940,000 to purchase gowns, face shields, and ventilators. She says the company has failed to deliver those goods or return the money to UAMS.
The attorney general says that despite the hospital's efforts to acquire the contracted PPE, Med-Care representatives "made false statements concerning the location of the products."
“At a time when Arkansans were most desperate for equipment to protect their health and safety, Med-Care took advantage of one of Arkansas’s largest hospitals and violated the trust of millions of Arkansans,” Rutledge said. “I refuse to let a company exploit Arkansans and that is why I am holding Med-Care accountable for stealing from the State during one of our most vulnerable times.”
The lawsuit claims that UAMS was told the products were in California, Virginia or even sold by the Chinese manufacturer to someone else.
"We saw price gouging and we also saw as our hospitals were fighting to find that PPE, that again was so desperately needed across the country and right here in Arkansas," Rutledge said.
Rutledge says UAMS believed it secured 1.5 million gowns ($1.8 million) and 60 ventilators ($540,000), while the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) purchased 2.5 million gowns ($3 million), 500 ventilators ($4.5 million) and 1 million face shields ($1.1 million).
Rutledge says the lawsuit seeks a refund of $10,940,000 with interest and civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) violation.
"We want to make sure that even with the global pandemic, that we are doing everything we can to protect taxpayer money and to ensure that we have those products back," Rutledge said.