Naples practice comes under fire from a former employee

Reporter: Chris Cifatte
Published: Updated:

We all go to the doctor. As WINK News Anchor Chris Cifatte found, there are some extra checks you may want to do before you go to a new practice.

Marnie Watts worked as an office manager for a dermatology practice in Naples called Art of Dermatology.

“I thought it was going to be great,” said Watts. “I put all my time and effort into it. It was set to open in early 2023.”

naples practice

She started a few months before that to get things ready. But she said the problems started before the doors opened and kept coming.

“We got a letter from the state saying that we couldn’t get this HCCE permit, which gave us the ability to order medications from medical suppliers,” stated Watts.

An HCCE or Health Care Clinic Establishment permit is required for a healthcare business to buy prescription drugs. Watts claimed because they didn’t have one, the Florida practice could not legitimately order any prescription drugs, so Art of Dermatology shipped them from their Michigan office.

“Yeah, from the Michigan Office, all like wrapped in like a birthday present,” said Watts.

“So was that because they couldn’t legitimately get them here?” asked Cifatte.

“Correct. Because we didn’t have the HCCE permit,” explained Watts.

In fact, the practice’s landlord sued to evict them from their offices on Goodlette Frank Road.

naples practice

In addition to not having an HCCE permit, the suit said Art of Dermatology didn’t have a business license, a business tax license, or insurance and failed to make loan or lease payments on its equipment.

The dermatology office denied any wrongdoing. We found their name stripped from the building where their office was. All the issues were too much for Watts. She resigned.

Watts also sued over pay. She claimed, per her employment contract, she is owed overtime and a $5000 recruitment bonus from her employers, Doctor Chethana Gottam and her husband Vikram.

The suit claimed they also deducted health insurance from her pay but did not pay the premium or reimburse her for out-of-pocket expenses.

naples practice

In the court response, the doctor denied all of the claims above.

When Watts quit, she thought it would be a good idea to warn potential patients.

“I had posted something on the NextDoor app,” she explained. “That our dermatology is not open, you know, the truth of the story. And I first got a letter about a defamation lawsuit for that.”

She received a cease and desist letter. She took her review down and the company did not pursue further action. But Watts punched back with her lawyer, Robert Goodman.

“I responded that everything she said was true, and therefore, it’s not defamation.  And that she’s got potential counterclaims,” explained Goodman. 

Watts said things got so bad she came home one night after quitting to find a police detective at her house.

“They accused me of rerouting insurance checks to my home address through the postal department, which is very odd because they weren’t credentialed with any insurance companies in Florida,” she added.

naples practice

Naples Police investigated and couldn’t find any proof a crime had been committed by Marnie Watts.

Now, she wants the back pay she is owed for the work she did and to move on.

Watts and Art of Dermatology have now settled the lawsuit. The eviction lawsuit was also settled.

The company sent WINK News the statement below through its public relations firm:

Our company acknowledges that we did have some unexpected license and permitting paperwork delays when we opened our first office in Florida two years ago. We took care of these as quickly as possible and they are now behind us.

For nearly a year now, we have been serving satisfied clients in our new state-of-the-art office. All of our licensing and permits have been procured and are current, and we remain in good standing with all appropriate state agencies and regulatory bodies.

Regarding the wage and hour claims made by Marnie Watts, she was a former employee who worked for us for a very short period of time. While we dispute any wrongdoing, both parties have agreed to settle the matter.

It’s been an absolute privilege to serve patients throughout Southwest Florida and we truly look forward to continuing our good work for many years to come.

–Art of Dermatology


To check for an HCCE permit, click here. Choose to search by name, then enter the company name or person’s name in the appropriate space.

To check for a business license, click here. You can check by business name or for an individual.

To verify a medical license, click here.

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