The third time’s the charm for Georgia optometrist Steven Wilson in a three-year court battle with Spectera.
In October, the Supreme Court of the State of Georgia ruled in favor of Dr. Wilson and his associates’ lawsuit against Spectera. Dr. Wilson and his associates had previously won the suit in lower courts, but Spectera appealed. His victory in state Supreme Court may finally settle the matter for good. Dr. Wilson initially filed the suit after Spectera announced in October 2010 that it was “phasing out” its Patriot provider agreement.
To continue as Spectera providers, Dr. Wilson and other private practice optometrists had to sign a new contract that required providers to use Spectera’s optical lab network for eyeglass orders and formulary contact lenses. The lawsuit argued that Spectera’s new contract had the effect of taking the preparing, supplying and selling of eyeglasses and contact lenses out of the private practitioner’s hands, essentially giving the patient no real choice at all—only Spectera’s materials and services.
In Dr. Wilson’s suit against the company, he argued that this violated the Patient Access to Eye Care Act. The county Superior Court agreed in September 2011, but Spectera appealed the decision. The Court of Appeals upheld the Superior Court’s ruling, so Spectera took its case to the state Supreme Court. Last month, the state Supreme Court agreed to the lower courts’ earlier decisions. The Supreme Court also ruled that Spectera cannot terminate a provider for any reason not related to eye care. (After Dr. Wilson filed his initial lawsuit, Spectera had terminated his and his associates’ contracts.)
Because these were state court decisions, these rulings apply only to practitioners in Georgia.