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Rite Aid Bags Epstein Becker Partner to Fill Top Legal Role

Aug. 5, 2020, 6:55 PM

Rite Aid Corp. has hired Epstein Becker & Green partner Paul Gilbert as its new general counsel more than two months after parting ways with its previous top lawyer.

Gilbert joined Rite Aid in an interim capacity May 21, the same date that the drugstore chain saw former general counsel James Comitale step down after more than 23 years at the company. Comitale had been Rite Aid’s general counsel since late 2015.

Rite Aid spokesman Christopher Savarese said that since coming aboard Gilbert has “supported key initiatives and offered strategic guidance” on the Camp Hill, Pa.-based company’s RxEvolution strategy, an initiative put forth by president and CEO Heyward Donigan, who took over a year ago this month.

“Paul experience working with health care providers, integrated health networks, payors, and technology solutions will be an asset,” said Donigan in a statement. “We’re excited to add his proven leadership and perspective to the team of senior leaders working toward a bright new future at Rite Aid.”

Gilbert was most recently a health care, life sciences, and corporate services partner at Epstein Becker, whose offices in Nashville and Washington he joined in December 2017 after spending over a decade as chief legal officer for LifePoint Health Inc. The Brentwood, Tenn.-based hospital chain and health care company was sold for $2.52 billion in 2018 to Apollo Global Management LLC.

Securities filings show that LifePoint and Gilbert parted ways in February 2017. The company paid him $803,443 in total compensation that year, as well as more than $2.5 million in 2016 and nearly $2.9 million in 2015. Prior to LifePoint, Gilbert was a partner at Nashville-based Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, where he advised hospitals and health care systems.

“This is an important time in health care, and Rite Aid is literally on the front lines of the critical mission to keep communities healthy and thriving,” Gilbert said in a statement. “I look forward to supporting that effort by further strengthening our internal legal, compliance, and governance-related capabilities.”

Epstein Becker has handled almost 3% of Rite Aid’s U.S. litigation work since 2007, according to Bloomberg Law data. During that time the firm has represented Rite Aid in wage and hour cases. Epstein Becker also formed a strategic alliance last year on employment law and workforce management with accounting firm Deloitte, which has served as Rite Aid’s auditor since 2000.

Comitale, whose LinkedIn profile states that he now provides freelance legal services to the retail industry, earned more than $1.3 million in total compensation from Rite Aid in 2019. Comitale also owns nearly $668,000 in Rite Aid stock, according to Bloomberg data.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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