LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Wednesday that she is filing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against a company she said failed to deliver personal protective equipment and ventilators to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Rutledge claimed Med-Care Health Link LLC of Virginia was supposed to provide UAMS with $10.94 million worth of items including 4 million gowns, a million face shields and 560 ventilators the hospital paid for between March and April of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic raced across the country.
“We saw the scramble for the health equipment that we all desperately needed,” Rutledge said during the announcement, saying she feels UAMS and the Department of Finance and Administration were “scammed” during a critical time.”Unfortunately, both UAMS and the department of finance and administration made very large purchases from unscrupulous characters.”
She said UAMS staff called, emailed, and texted the company from April to September of 2020 to track down the status of the PPE shipments,
Rutledge also claimed company representatives made false claims in their replies, trying to say that the PPE was in other states or sold by overseas manufactures to other vendors.
Amanda George, Vice Chancellor of Fiance for UAMS, said she feels Med-Care “Took advantage” of the situation.
“We were in critical need of PPE,” George said, “They probably didn’t necessarily have it on hand, and were hedging that they could get it.”
The attorney general said that now, nearly a year and a half later, the company still has not delivered the items nor refunded any of the money to UAMS or the state Department of Finance.
“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.”
Rutledge said she is suing the company under Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act for a refund of the $10.94 million originally spent by UAMS, plus interest, as well as penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation of the ADTPA.