$7 million for attorneys in USAA class settlement

Steve Korris Oct. 27, 2005, 2:13am

Richard Burke

Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron

Jeffrey AJ Millar

Plaintiff attorneys in a class action suit will receive $7 million under a settlement that Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron signed Oct. 21.

Byron granted final approval of a June 23 settlement agreement in Bemis vs. United Services Automobile Association (USAA).

Lead attorney for plaintiffs is Richard Burke of the Lakin Law firm in Wood River.

Chiropractor Gerald Bemis and other plaintiffs claimed in a 2001 suit that USAA improperly reduced payouts under “medpay” provisions of its policies.

After the parties settled, they hired Rust Consulting of Faribault, Minn., to administer claims. Rust Consulting mailed 269,100 notices.

Colorado residents tried to postpone final approval. Attorney Timothy Scott of Denver wrote to Byron that Colorado law offered better remedies than the settlement.

Scott, however, did not send a filing fee. Byron ignored the document.

Rust Consulting received 1,347 responses from potential class members who “opted out,” preserving the right to file their own claims.

Although the settlement agreement announced the legal fee, it did not disclose the amount that USAA will distribute to the class through Rust Consulting.

Burke and the other attorney of record, Jeffrey Millar of the Lakin firm, will spread a little of the $7 million pot around. Each plaintiff who testified by deposition will receive a $10,000 “incentive.” Other named plaintiffs will get $3,000.

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