URBANA — Ex-Christie Clinic dermatologist Dr. Jeremy Youse and his new venture, VitalSkin Dermatology, have fired off accusations of their own in connection with a lawsuit Christie filed recently against Youse and VitalSkin.
Included in new filings this week in federal court in Urbana is a declaration by Youse describing issues he said led to his distrust in the financial reporting of Christie Clinic and its dermatology department.
Among them, Youse contended: He learned about hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial losses connected to Christie Clinic’s Radiance Cosmetic Spa and the clinic’s contract with a national prescribing service, Prescriber’s Choice, only after finding large, recurring and unexplained deductions in his personal monthly production report.
The opening of the cosmetic spa came at a significant cost to the dermatology department, Youse said, and it was opened “without any significant input from me.”
Christie Clinic conducted an internal audit after he and other partners in the practice made multiple requests, Youse said, and it showed “a misallocation of hundreds of thousands of dollars” in collections obtained from the cosmetic spa over several years.
Those alleged accounting errors and misallocations of funds came “largely to the detriment of junior partners” and required a large redistribution of previously collected funds to correct the error, Youse contended.
When he became chairman of the dermatology department, Youse said, he tried to get some clarity on losses accrued from the Prescriber’s Choice relationship.
“The clinic was never able to fully explain why there were such large losses due to this venture,” he said. “In the process, I did discover dozens of cases of purchased and expired product that was never accounted for by the clinic or department. I did discover that multiple tubes of expired medication were dispensed by the department while under the lead of the previous department chair.”
Youse worked for Christie Clinic for about a decade and headed its dermatology department for about six months before resigning at the end of July to join VitalSkin Physician Management and open his own practice through VitalSkin Medical Group, according to VitalSkin.
VitalSkin’s first dermatology clinic is set to open Monday in Mattoon, and a second clinic in Decatur is planned to open next year. A third clinic is planned for Urbana after the restrictions of a non-compete agreement Youse signed with Christie no longer apply.
The lawsuit filed by Christie Clinic a week ago accused Youse of violating the terms of that agreement, which prohibits him from competing with Christie for 24 months within a 35-mile radius of any Christie location where he was employed.
Christie further accused Youse of copying confidential Christie patient and business files, copying trade-secret and/or confidential information to use for VitalSkin and soliciting Christie Clinic patients for VitalSkin.
In a VitalSkin filing opposing Christie Clinic’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, the company claimed these accusations are false.
Christie turned to the court to delay and/or prohibit Youse from opening his practice and supported its request by presenting the court “with nothing more than conclusory allegations, conspiracy theories and outright falsehoods alleging that Dr. Youse stole and is using confidential Christie and patient information,” VitalSkin’s motion states.
“Christie Clinic is wrongfully accusing Dr. Jeremy Youse and VitalSkin Dermatology of violating Youse’s contractual agreement with Christie Clinic,” VitalSkin CEO Todd Petersen said Thursday. “Even worse, accusing Youse of compromising patient privacy is simply unsubstantiated and defamatory. At the end of the day, we believe this is about Christie Clinic trying to eliminate competition by preventing the opening of our Mattoon and Decatur locations.”
In his declaration, Youse said he rarely participated in business-planning discussions at Christie due to his busy patient schedule, and as a Christie shareholder had access to such information as clinical records related to caring for patients, emails sent to him and his personal production and monthly reports.
“I had little to no say whatsoever involving decisions regarding the department’s or clinic’s insurance contracts, negotiations, pricing, purchasing, vendor relations, marketing or overall business decisions,” he said.
Youse also said he spent 50 to 70 hours a week at Christie caring for his patients and performing other clinical duties, and that he made very few important decisions during his brief time as dermatology department head.
“There were monthly department-chair meetings, but I was never able to attend one of these meetings due to my high clinical volumes and busy patient schedule,” he said.
VitalSkin officials also contended that Youse has chosen to open two clinics outside his 35-mile non-compete provision, in Mattoon and Decatur, where access to dermatology care is needed. VitalSkin leaders also denied that Youse retained confidential patient- identifiable information. Nor did he violate his non-solicitation agreement by directly contacting any Christie patients, VitalSkin contended.
“The mail advertisements referenced in the lawsuit were direct-mail campaigns not targeted to any specific individual, and therefore were lawful,” the company said.
VitalSkin said Youse does not have, nor did he have, a list of former patients to target with advertisements. It further said Youse hasn’t made any attempts to share confidential information from Christie Clinic and has been focused on the clinical aspect of the business.
“It is disheartening that Christie Clinic would take such a defamatory position towards a well-respected community provider who’s committed to expanding access to care and offering dermatology in markets that may have never anticipated having such services,” Petersen said.
Christie Clinic declined to comment on the recent filings by VitalSkin.
U.S. Judge Colin Bruce denied Christie Clinic’s motion for a temporary restraining order Thursday and gave it until Dec. 10 to file a response to Youse and VitalSkin’s filings.
The court will determine after that if a hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction is necessary.