CHICAGO — A pain management specialist who practices in Chicago’s northwest suburbs is suing his Northwest Indiana counterpart with the same name.
The suit claims the Munster practitioner’s downfall as a criminally prosecuted painkiller pusher decimated his own practice.
The Dr. Jay Joshi with a practice in Munster was federally indicted and pleaded guilty earlier this year to over-prescribing pain medications to patients.
Now, another Jay Joshi — a prominent pain management physician, board-certified anesthesiologist and founder of National Pain Centers — is suing him in U.S. District Court for the Northern Illinois District.
The complaint claims the “imitator Joshi” was “an opportunistic physician” who intentionally misrepresented himself using the real Dr. Joshi’s reputation and credentials “in order to deceive patients and others into believing that he was a pain medicine expert.”
Joshi’s attorney, Mikhael Bortz, said the claims in her client’s lawsuit are based in the laws of unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.
“The law is very clear that one does not have an unfettered right to use their personal name in business,” Bortz told The Times in an email.
“There is no question that Dr. Joshi will prevail on his claims. The standard for unfair competition claims like the ones in Dr. Joshi’s case is, ‘Was there consumer confusion as to who was who?’” Bortz said. “We already know that there was and is consumer confusion between Dr. Joshi and the other Joshi, that the other Joshi actively cultivated this confusion, and that Dr. Joshi has been damaged because of it.”
The lawsuit alleges the Dr. Joshi in Munster held himself out to the public to be a pain specialist and also “combined and/or did not fix the Real Dr. Joshi’s contact information with the Imitator Joshi’s on several online professional profile pages, and also misappropriated the Real Dr. Joshi’s credentials and patient reviews.”
The suit argues the "Imitator Joshi" had a duty to distinguish between the two people, and refrain from disseminating false information as to his credentials and intentionally confusing the public.
It’s unclear, based on the lawsuit alone, how the “imitator Joshi” specifically and intentionally misrepresented himself as the Dr. Joshi in Illinois through misuse of credentials and background.
The suit does not detail specific incidents in which Joshi allegedly carried out these deceptive acts, and Bortz said she is unable to disclose specific allegations at this time.
“Rest assured, however, that everything will come out in the lawsuit,” she said.
The indictment, guilty plea
Joshi was a practicing physician at his Prestige Clinic in Munster when he was indicted on allegations of over-prescribing pain medications to patients.
At the time, he was ranked first in Lake County and ninth in the state among registered drug providers last year for the number of prescriptions written for controlled substances, according to court records.
Investigators placed Joshi on their radar after discovering he had written more than 6,000 prescriptions for controlled substances since April 2017, the indictment states.
“The Imitator Joshi gave interviews to journalists who were trying to get in touch with, and then thought they were speaking with, the Real Dr. Joshi. The Imitator Joshi would intentionally conceal, suppress, or omit the material fact that he was in fact not the Real Dr. Joshi,” the suit alleges.
“Based on such misguided publicity, Defendant Prestige Clinics saw a huge surge in the amount of pain patients it was servicing, and Imitator Joshi jumped at the chance to improperly line his own pockets by overprescribing opioids during the greatest opioid epidemic the U.S. has ever seen,” the suit contends.
While Joshi can no longer practice medicine, the self-described “Real Joshi” argued in court filings that confusion has decimated his practice.
Physicians no longer refer patients to Joshi’s NPC practice, incorrectly thinking the “Real Dr. Joshi was the one who got indicted,” the suit states. While Joshi typically receives dozens of invitations to present at conferences each year all over the country, he has not received a single invite since the 2017 indictment in January.
The suit is seeking unspecified monetary damages. The suit also seeks the court to instruct Joshi from refraining from using his name in relation to pain medicine treatment and to carry out "widespread corrective advertising" to mitigate the confusion.