Lakin makes it a baker's dozen in two days

Steve Gonzalez Feb. 15, 2005, 1:03pm

A day after the Lakin Law Firm of Wood River churned out seven class action lawsuits against insurance companies on behalf of area chiropractors, the firm unleashed another six similar cases in Madison County Circuit Court on Feb. 15.

Chiropractors have filed nearly 50 class action lawsuits in the last year-and-a-half against insurance companies alleging insurance companies reduced payments either by using biased software or by improperly applying reductions under a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) agreement--without proper referrals or steerage.

Consistent with the six suits filed Feb. 14, the recent suits brought mostly by repeat plaintiffs claim insurance companies' "acts and omissions" constitute fraud, civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment, and are in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.

Pointe East Physical Rehab of Glen Carbon filed two suits alleging Argonaut Insurance Company of Peoria and General Casualty Insurance Company of Illinois were obligated to pay reasonable expenses for medical treatment, but instead, systematically imposed improper PPO reductions on its payouts for medical treatment.

Pointe East claims Argonaut and General had not taken any meaningful channeling, referral or steerage efforts that would justify a discount against Pointe East's usual and customary charge.

Alton chiropractor Frank Bemis--who was a plaintiff in most of the class action suits filed Feb. 14--filed three of the six complaints on Feb. 15.

Bemis alleges Federated Mutual Insurance of Owatonna, Minn., Employers Mutual Casualty of Des Moines, Iowa and Pekin Insurance of Pekin, Ill. deceptively reduced payments to him and other licensed health care providers.

Richard Coy of Glen Carbon filed another class action Feb. 15 against Crawford & Co of Atlanta--the largest independent provider of claims management services to insurance companies.

Coy alleges Crawford manipulated computer codes to reduce payouts by incorporating secret treatment guidelines into the system as purportedly not necessary. He also claims that Crawford unfairly reduced payments claiming a PPO benefit without referring more customers.

All six cases seek damages which are not to exceed $75,000 per class member. The Chicago Law Firm of Freed & Weiss will assist Lakin in the cases.

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