Tenn. AG's settlement provides $1.1M in restitution

Bryan Cohen Oct. 1, 2011, 12:47pm


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline) - Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper and Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs Director Gary Cordell announced a $300,000 agreement on Wednesday with a company alleged to have sold fake health insurance.

The agreement provides hundreds of eligible Tennesseans and consumers throughout the country with a total of $1.1 million in restitution. In addition, the agreement bans Tim Thomas, his wife Keenan Dozier and their now-defunct companies, U.S. Benefits LLC and United Benefits of America LLC, from selling health insurance in Tennessee.

The settlement concludes an action begun by the Federal Trade Commission and Tennessee alleging that the defendants engaged in a scheme to falsely market minor health benefits and other discount plans as major medical insurance. In August 2010, the FTC and Tennessee successfully obtained an asset freeze and temporary injunction against the defendants. The federal court appointed a receiver to gather the defendants' personal and corporate assets.

The state received a $300,000 restitution payment Wednesday from the receiver that it will use to begin paying restitution to approximately 172 consumers who complained to the Division of Consumer Affairs, the FTC or the Better Business Bureau.

In addition, the Thomases' major assets will be surrendered or liquidated to lien holders, including such luxury items as their wine collection, Olhausen pool table, 50" Samsung LCD TV, Thomas Butterworth oil painting and additional assets. The asset surrendering is expected to produce more than $1 million to use to notify all of the defendants' customers about their rights under the case and provide for more expansive consumer restitution based on available funds.

"We hope this will help relieve some of the potential loss and anxiety these Tennesseans may have incurred as a result of unwittingly buying what they thought was a legitimate health insurance product," Cooper said. "We appreciate the assistance and cooperative actions of the FTC and the Tennessee Department of Insurance in this matter."

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