Herndon denies class certification in Lakin national class action

Steve Korris Aug. 23, 2007, 2:20am

U.S. District Judge David Herndon, Tom Lakin's former law partner, passed up an opportunity to help the Lakin Law Firm destroy a small business.

Herndon on Aug. 22 denied certification of a national Lakin class action against Integrated Health Plan, a Florida company with 39 employees.

He reached a decision six days after Lakin lawyer Jeff Millar told him that if the company went out of business, it would stop breaching contracts.

Millar invoked doom at an Aug. 16 hearing, though Herndon gave him a chance not to do it.

At the hearing, Integrated Health Plan attorney Michael Kendall of Boston said the cost of a class action notice alone would bankrupt his client.

Herndon told Millar it was not the role of litigation to put people out of business. He asked Millar to respond.

Millar said Integrated Health Plan's website described it as one of the top five preferred provider organizations in the nation.

He said Integrated Health Plan was able to mount a vigorous defense.

He said, "Just because they claim they no longer have any money doesn't make their misdeeds right."

He said going out of business would be a dire result.

He said, "But if that were to happen, that company would no longer be making those kinds of breach of contracts."

Kendall responded that Integrated Health Plan offered access to 500,000 providers. He said the website described its reach, not its revenue.

Herndon told them he would take class certification under advisement.

He wrote in his Aug. 22 order that, "…given the variations in contracts and state specific laws and regulations governing different lines of insurance, the Court has determined that the issues are too complex for this matter to be certified as a class action."

He did not elaborate. Instead he directed Kendall to submit a proposed order by Aug. 31.

Now Lakin plaintiffs Ann Stock and Richard Coy, local chiropractors, can pursue only their individual claims against Integrated Health Plan.

Stock and Coy sued the company last year in St. Clair County.

The company removed the suit to U.S. district court.

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