Illinois AG files suits against Heart Check America

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Lisa Madigan, Illinois attorney general (AG), has sued Heart Check America, citing the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, adding to the series of crackdowns on the screening CT chain.

The suit pertains to two Chicago-area Heart Check America centers, one in Arlington Heights and the second in Tinley Park, and names Sheila Haddad, the company's president, and her son David Haddad, company principle and sales executive, as co-defendants.

The suit claims that the defendants violated Illinois law by advertising and providing preventive electron beam CT scans, marketing body scans by offering free heart and lung scans, telemarketing scans to Illinois consumers on the Do Not Call list and conducting high-pressure sales to induce consumers to contract for multi-year services.

In the complaint, Madigan noted that multiple preventive scans may not be in consumers’ best interests. According to the complaint, the company based its sales on the false premise that early detection of disease always leads to better outcomes and claimed that abdominal and pelvic CT screening studies are cost-effective, when they are not. In addition, Heart Check America does not inform consumers about the risks of scanning, the complaint continued.

Other deceptive marketing practices include recommending lung CT screening for all patients and promoting cardiac CT, rather than ultrasound, for aortic aneurysm screening.

The company has closed its Illinois operations, and consumers have not received scans or results of prepaid studies.

The complaint lists several individual cases of fraud and deception and comes on the heels of the closure of Heart Check America in Denver in May and an investigation into the company's sister organization Cancer Check of America in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Madigan previously sued 14 Chicago-area MRI centers for an illegal kickback scheme. The case was settled for $1.2 million in 2009.