Minnesota AG sues COVID-19 testing lab over allegedly fraudulent results

Minnesota's attorney general's office announced on Wednesday it was suing a national company that issues COVID-19 tests, citing concerns with fraudulent and deceptive practices.

The office filed the lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court against Illinois-based Center for COVID Control and its primary lab, Doctors Clinical Lab, accusing the company of having "failed to deliver test results, or delivered test results that were falsified or inaccurate," according to a Wednesday press release.

The lawsuit charges the company on four counts, including violating the Prevention of Consumer Fraud Act.

Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement he was going to hold the company accountable for "deceiving Minnesotans and undermining the public's trust in testing."

"My job is to fight for Minnesotans' security and help them live with dignity, safety, and respect," he said. "Making sure that Minnesotans have accurate tools to [keep] them safe from the COVID-19 pandemic is a key part of that job."

Other states have also received complaints about The Center for COVID Control, a business under investigation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Oregon Department of Justice, USA Today reported.

The Center for COVID Control opened in 2020 and now has more than 300 testing sites with about 3,000 front line employees spread across the U.S., according to the company.

In Minnesota, pop-up testing locations failed to provide timely test results and sometimes never released results for patients at all, the attorney general's office said. Other people reported receiving test results without submitting a sample.

According to the attorney general's office, "former employees recounted finding samples in bags that were well over 48 hours old, being instructed by management to falsify dates of receipt, and being instructed to lie to consumers about their tests being inconclusive or negative when, in fact, the sample had not been tested."

In a Jan. 13 press release, The Center for COVID Control announced it was pausing testing operations until Jan. 22 to "ensure the highest customer service and diagnostic quality."

"Regrettably, due to our rapid growth and the unprecedented recent demand for testing, we haven't been able to meet all our commitments," said CEO Aleya Siyaj in a statement. "We've made this difficult decision to temporarily pause all operations, until we are confident that all collection sites are meeting our high standards for quality."