Jan 23, 2019

Optum sues employee who left for Amazon's health care venture

Little is known about the Amazon-Berkshire-JPMorgan health care project. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Optum is suing an executive who left the company to work for the new health care venture created by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase. The lawsuit, first reported by STAT, alleges that his new employment "poses a direct threat to Optum’s trade secrets and other confidential information."

Why it matters: It's been a year since the three conglomerates promised to "disrupt" the health care industry with their venture. And the only thing we really know about it now is that Optum — the profitable and growing division of UnitedHealth Group that provides health care, data services and pharmacy benefits — views it as a competitor.

Details: Optum really doesn't want its former employee to work for this "ABC" venture, as it's been called.

  • The ABC company, which is supposed to be a nonprofit and is led by Atul Gawande, is currently registered as "TCORP62018 LLC."
  • The former Optum employee, David Smith, made $200,000 a year plus stock as a vice president of product strategy. The company accused him of printing materials with Optum's trade secrets and attending confidential meetings right before he resigned.
  • The top lawyers for UnitedHealth and ABC corresponded with each other over Smith's new employment. UnitedHealth wrote in a letter that Smith's "inappropriate conduct" could violate state and federal trade secrets laws.
  • ABC has not explicitly said what it will do. However, according to the lawsuit, Smith said his "initial tasks will be in-depth research focused on the delivery and costs of health care for the over 1 million individuals covered by the health plans of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase" — indicating the venture will not be nearly as big or disruptive as some have made it out to be.

Go deeper: Read the lawsuit.

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In photos: Protesters and police clash nationwide over George Floyd

A firework explodes behind a line of police officers next to the Colorado State Capitol during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Denver on May 30. Photo : Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray as the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd continued nationwide into early Sunday.

The big picture: Police responded over the weekend with force, in cities ranging from Salt Lake City to Atlanta to Des Moines, Houston to Detroit, Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., Denver and Louisville. Large crowds gathered in Minneapolis on Saturday for the fifth day in a row.

Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

George Floyd protests: What you need to know

Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Clashes erupted between police and protesters in several major U.S. cities Saturday night as demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black men spread across the country.

The big picture: Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.

Massive demonstrations put police response to unrest in the spotlight

Washington State Police use tear gas to disperse a crowd in Seattle during a demonstration protesting the death of George Floyd. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

The response of some officers during demonstrations against police brutality in the U.S. has been criticized for being excessive by some officials and Black Lives Matter leaders.

Why it matters: The situation is tense across the U.S., with reports of protesters looting and burning buildings. While some police have responded with restraint and by monitoring the protests, others have used batons, tear gas, rubber bullets and other devices to disperse protesters and, in some cases, journalists.