A federal judge in the Northern District of Illinois has ruled that a lawsuit against a doctor taking advantage of having the same first and last name as another physician to abet criminal drug distribution may proceed in court. On August 8, 2018, Dr. Jay Joshi (“Plaintiff”) sued Dr. Jay K. Joshi (“Imposter”) and Prestige Clinics, his medical practice, in a twenty-five page-complaint, alleging the Imposter was capitalizing on their similar names to operate and profit from an opioid “pill mill,” thereby tarnishing the Plaintiff’s professional standing and reputation in the medical community. The Plaintiff claims that the Imposter “purposely combined” or failed to fix the contact information on the Plaintiff’s online marketing material and misappropriated the Plaintiff’s credentials and patient reviews.
The Plaintiff is a pain management specialist in the suburbs of Chicago, IL, and started experiencing plummeting patient reviews, declining physician referrals, and abysmal social media reports about his medical practice, National Pain Centers, LLC, early 2018. The Imposter was also a practicing physician in the greater Chicago area through Prestige Clinics and was purposely and intentionally using the Plaintiff’s name, reputation, and goodwill in the Chicago medical community to gain standing and increased patient referrals to his practice. Once the Imposter received the increased patient volume, the Plaintiff alleges he improperly prescribed and dispensed illegal drugs for patient misuse multiple times across a couple of years. The Plaintiff also alleges that the Imposter engaged in unfair competition and unjust enrichment by using his good name to gain patients to dispense such illegal drugs.
The federal judge found enough merit in the Plaintiff’s claims and suggested that there may also be a claim for trademark dilution as the Imposter sowed confusion around the Plaintiff’s name by misappropriating the Plaintiff’s name and credentials. The Imposter’s medical license has since been revoked, and he has reported to federal prison as of July 1, 2020, to serve fifteen months for the distribution of illegal opioid drugs.