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Mass. Attorney General Alleges Firm Accepted Kickbacks in Exchange for 800 Personal Injury Referrals

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Keches Law Group, P.C., a personal injury firm with offices in multiple locations throughout New England, including Boston and Providence, has been sued by the Massachusetts Attorney General for allegedly accepting more than $90,000 in kickbacks from a local pharmacy in exchange for hundreds of client referrals.

MassLive.com reports that Attorney General Maura Healey filed a lawsuit against Keches for accepting tens of thousands in illegal kickbacks from Injured Workers Pharmacy in exchange for referring at least 800 of the firm’s personal injury clients for prescription medications.

Announcing the lawsuit’s filing in Suffolk Superior Court Friday, Healey’s office issued a statement accusing Keches of referring the clients to the pharmacy without disclosing its financial interest in the referrals or obtaining their clients’ informed consent.

“Lawyers in Massachusetts are expected to follow the law,” said Healey. “Clients should feel confident that they are getting unbiased advice from their lawyers, not being steered towards providers that are secretly paying for referrals.”

MassLive.com also reported Keches Law Group is “surprised and disappointed” by Healey’s suit, which is based on “the firm’s short-term marketing arrangement with an online pharmacy,” reads a statement from Thomas F. Maffei, who is representing Keches.

“KLG cooperated with the AGO’s unrelated investigation of that pharmacy and immediately terminated its commercial relationship. There was no quid pro quo, and to their knowledge no client was harmed. KLG denies that its conduct was unfair or deceptive in any way and disputes the AGO’s characterization of the facts,” the statement reads. “For 35 years, KLG has fought to protect the rights and interests of thousands of injured Massachusetts workers and accident victims. KLG will continue to do so while it defends this claim.”

Healey’s office started investigating Keches Law Group connection to an investigation of Injured Workers Pharmacy’s dispensing practices. That investigation led to an $11 million consent judgment, resolving claims the pharmacy violated the state’s consumer protection law by failing to implement adequate safeguards against unlawful and dangerous controlled substance dispensing and by paying kickbacks for new patient referrals, the statement said.

Keches entered a one-year “marketing agreement” with Injured Workers Pharmacy in March 2017. The agreement indicated that IWP would pay Keches $4,000 per month to link to IWP’s website and promote IWP’s pharmacy services. However, internal emails show the true purpose of the monthly payments was to compensate Keches for referring at least 40 of its clients to IWP each month, the attorney general’s office said.

Healey alleges the firm and pharmacy agreed to a second, unwritten arrangement in January 2018. IWP agreed to pay for Keches’ social events in exchange for referrals, the statement said.

Ultimately, IWP paid more than $74,000 for the social events, including an X1 racing event, a yacht outing, and a nearly $ 24,000-holiday luncheon. Keches’ referrals under the 2017 and 2018 agreements generated more than $1.2 million in revenue for IWP, Healey’s office said.

With the lawsuit, Healey seeks an order from the court permanently enjoining Keches from further violations of the consumer protection law, together with consumer restitution, civil penalties and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Bizjournals.com also reported that Keches Law Group is “one of the better-known [firms] in the Boston area for personal injury work,” and that Injured Workers Pharmacy was the subject of an action from Healey this summer. The pharmacy agreed to pay $11 million in connection with allegations of illegally dispensing opioids and other drugs to injured workers around the U.S.