The Potluck

Minnesota sues COVID-19 testing companies, alleging deceptive practices

By: - January 19, 2022 5:47 pm

A researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the coronavirus at Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation on February 28, 2020 in Nutley, New Jersey. Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images.

The state of Minnesota is suing two Illinois-based COVID-19 testing companies for deceptive practices after they allegedly failed to provide accurate test results — or any results at all, in some cases.

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office received numerous complaints that the Center for Covid Control and Doctors Clinical Laboratory provided falsified test results, sent results weeks later than advertised or provided results to people who never submitted a sample, Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Wednesday. 

“Issuing false results or no results at all undermines the public’s trust in this crucial tool of testing. We cannot have that,” Ellison said during a news conference. “Taking advantage of Minnesotans for a profit, during this vulnerable time for families, is unconscionable.”

Former Center for Covid Control employees told the Attorney General’s Office that the company’s processing center couldn’t keep up as the company opened new testing sites across the country.

One former employee described the result as chaos, with samples stuffed into trash bags and left on the floor. Others said they found samples in bags that were over 48 hours old. Managers told them to falsify the dates of receipt and lie to customers about their tests being inconclusive or negative when the samples hadn’t been tested at all, former employees said.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief to stop the companies’ conduct, payment for Minnesotans who paid out-of-pocket for the tests and civil penalties of up to $25,000 per alleged violation, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Dan Huff, assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, said Minnesotans seeking COVID-19 tests have a number of trustworthy options, including state-run testing sites, doctor’s offices and free at-home tests from the federal government.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.