Florida agency accused of stiffing business on COVID test contracts

COVID-19 testing centre in Les Sorinieres
A medical worker administers a nasal swab to a patient at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing centre in Les Sorinieres, near Nantes, France, June 23, 2022. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
  • Company claims Florida wanted 600,000 test kits in March 2020, then backed out after receiving some
  • Florida hasn't paid $4.4 mln it owes on test deals, lawsuit says

(Reuters) - An Alabama company is suing Florida’s Division of Emergency Management over claims it stiffed the company on contracts to purchase hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 test kits signed at the start of the pandemic.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Leon County, Florida, state court, Global Innovative Concepts LLC said it is trying to collect on $4.4 million the state of Florida said it would pay for the tests.

Global Innovative Concepts, a technology consulting company, was assigned the claims by a pair of companies, Essential Health Solutions and Essential Diagnostics, which struck the disputed deals with the state, according to court records.

The Division of Emergency Management agreed to buy 200,000 COVID viral sample collection kits from Essential Diagnostics on March 22, 2020, for $2.2 million, according to the lawsuit. Two days later, the Division requested another 400,000 kits for $4.4 million, and the company agreed as long as half of the invoice was paid immediately, the lawsuit claims.

The director of the division agreed to the terms and the state sent Essential Diagnostics LLC a check for $2.2 million, which Essential understood to be the payment for half of the second order for 400,000 kits, according to the lawsuit.

Florida did not pay Essential the remaining balance on either order and refused to accept the 400,000 test kits from the second order, which arrived on April 16, 2020, the lawsuit said.

Thomas Cargill and John Morgan of Morgan & Morgan, which is representing Global, said in a statement the company “expended considerable resources and effort to fulfill two huge COVID-19 test orders during a time when those critically needed tests were in short supply.”

A representative for the Florida Division of Emergency Management did not respond to a request for comment.

COVID testing was hard to come by in the early months of the pandemic, as some test kits prepared by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were faulty and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was slow to approve other tests. Outside manufacturers struggled with a lack of chemicals and other components to produce tests.

The case is Global Innovative Concepts LLC v. State of Florida, Division of Emergency Management, Circuit Court for the Second Judicial Circuit, Leon County, Florida, case number 2022 CA 001160.

Counsel for Global Innovative Concepts: Thomas Cargill of Morgan & Morgan

Counsel for Florida Division of Emergency Management: Unavailable

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