Application to Vacate
UnitedHealthcare on Dec. 26 asked a Harris County, Texas, state court to vacate a $153 million interim arbitration award in a contract dispute with Radiology Partners affiliate Singleton Associates, arguing that the arbitration panel is considering whether to vacate the interim award and that it would be premature for the court to “wade into” the dispute.
United argues in its application to vacate that the Texas state court can only confirm final awards and that the award is not final because the arbitration panel is considering whether to vacate the interim award because of partiality of the members of the arbitration panel. Three of the arbitrators, including the chair of the panel, were disqualified because of their “evident partiality,” the insurer says, “based on overwhelming evidence of bias on issues directly relevant to the arbitration and the Interim Award.”
After the chair’s disqualification and removal by the American Arbitration Association, a new chair was appointed, according to United. On Dec. 22, the new panel granted United’s request for rehearing in part, indicating that it would reconsider the outcome of phases 1 and 2 of the arbitration “based on the written record,” the application notes.
The insurer noted that while its response to Singleton’s application to confirm the interim award is not yet due, it is filing its application to vacate as a “protective measure” because the Federal Arbitration Act sets a three-month deadline for United to seek vacatur. If the state court reviews the interim award, then it should be vacated, according to United, because it was “infected by multiple biased, now-disqualified arbitrators.”
The Texas lawsuit is one of many across the country between private-equity-owned healthcare provider groups, such as Radiology Partners, and insurers. In April 2023, United entities sued
Radiology Partners in the Central District of California, alleging that the company defrauded United out of “tens of millions of dollars” through an unlawful “pass-through billing” scheme. In September, U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald granted
Radiology Partners’ motion to compel arbitration and stayed the litigation.
Emergency provider groups owned by Blackstone-sponsored TeamHealth have brought several underpayment suits
against UnitedHealth Group.