MINNEAPOLIS — Subzero temperatures didn't stop Ed Hugener and his daughter from visiting a pop-up COVID-19 testing site shortly after Christmas.
"We were out of state for Christmas, and so we wanted to get tested and plus one of the kids friends tested positive so we just wanted to get tested," Hugener explained.
Hugener said he had driven by the Doctors Clinical Laboratory site in the Hiawatha neighborhood before, so he went there with his 12-year-old.
There, he found a whole lot of confusion. He said he usually saw long lines when he drove by, but that day, the line was relatively short, but people in the line had no idea what to do or how to get started.
"What I also noticed when I looked inside the window and when I went inside, the room was pretty small," Hugener said. "It was probably 10- to 15-square-feet by 10- to 15-square-feet, and there were a bunch of people in there--I would guess anywhere between 12 to 15, maybe even more. No social distancing, no sanitizer, no one guiding traffic or giving guidance on what to do, it was an absolute mess from a process standpoint."
By this point, Hugener says he had already scanned a QR code and registered both him and his daughter for tests using an email address.
However, in the end, he says they decided to walk away because the whole thing felt like so disorganized. Plus, he said he was worried that the room was so small with no social distancing protocols in place.
"We left, we didn't get tested," he said. "So I thought that was it, [I thought] it was an interesting experience, probably wont go back there. But the second part of that story, later that evening around eight, I got an email. It had a certificate looking thing saying that my test was negative."
"So they sent me a negative test result even though I didn't take the test," Hugener said.
And even weirder, the next day, he said he got another negative result, this time for his young daughter.
The collection date on her report showed the sample was collected a whole day after his when they registered at the same time and date. The report also said it was collected on Dec. 30, when his daughter would have been in school.
With this information, Hugener said he reported the site to the state Attorney General's office.
Attorney General Keith Ellison said on Tuesday, Hugener's experience is among now at least 30 reports about both Doctors Clinical Laboratory and the Centers for COVID Control.
The lawsuit, which can be found here, alleges that both Center for COVID Control and Doctors Clinical Laboratory operate a total of eight sites within the state. They also advertise to operate at least 300 sites across the country.
"These companies are getting insurance information, trying to bill insurance or the government, they're essentially performing a service that they are not delivering, but trying to get paid for it," Ellison said. "Even if its not directly from the person getting the test, they're still trying to get compensated for it, and we're not going to allow them to defraud the public this way."
Among the complaints the AG's office received, Ellison said he saw delayed results or no results at all.
The companies advertised a result within 24 to 72 hours of testing.
Some customers said they never got their results, reportedly causing one of them to miss a funeral in Canada.
The suit also alleges DCL has billed the federal government for over $113 million for COVID tests provided to allegedly uninsured patients across the nation. It details that former employees report having to just 'default' to putting down customers as having no insurance, which would mean the government would have been footing the bill for those tests.
Plus, Ellison said neither companies has a license to operate in Minnesota.
"You're supposed to check in with the secretary of state, and do the proper paperwork," Ellison said. "One of the things we are alleging, is that they did not do that."
"Trust is tenuous," Ellison continued. "And so we've got to make sure the system is accurate, fast and reliable. These companies are destroying that-- we're going to take the action that is our statutory and constitutional obligation to take, which is to stop it."
We have reached out to both Center for COVID Control and Doctors Clinical Laboratory for comment but have not heard back.
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