Fairness hearing reset for August in Shipley-Coy class action

Amelia Flood Jul. 23, 2009, 7:25am



A class action fairness hearing in a case against First Health Insurance Co. that was continued last week due to a Madison County judge's packed asbestos docket will resume in August.

Circuit Judge Daniel Stack had debated trying to move some of the asbestos matters to another judge but decided to reset the continuing arguments in two chiropractors' class action suit against the administrator of a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). The settlement is being challenged by a class member with a nearly identical suit pending in St. Clair County.

The original arguments over the settlement of Shipley and Coy et. al vs. First Health Insurance Company et. al. began May 26.

The new fairness hearing date is Aug. 25 at 9:30 a.m.

Class member Kathleen Roche, a Swansea chiropractor, moved to intervene. She claims that the settlement reached between First Health and the lead plaintiffs was unfair, did not financially compensate class members and would cut the knees out from under her nearly identical St. Clair County suit.

The proposed settlement would grant chiropractors Richard Coy of Glen Carbon and Lawrence Shipley of Granite City $10,000 each as class representatives. First Health would pay out about $1.25 million to non-profits to further medical education throughout Illinois. The LakinChapman law firm, who represent the class, would receive over $600,000 in legal fees.

The suit was brought against First Health over what the plaintiffs considered unjust enrichment from improper PPO claims adjustments.
A fight in Judge Stack's court in May took over three hours as attorneys Robert Schmieder III, Eric Brandfonbrener, and Richard Burke argued about the settlement's merits. The lawyers also traded barbs.

Burke, who represents Roche, is a former firm mate of Schmeider. Burke has fought with his old firm in several suits since leaving it in 2007.

Citing mental fatigue and the complexities of the arguments, Stack continued the original fairness hearing to July 15.

Before that hearing could begin, however, Stack's court room was filled by attorneys in pending asbestos cases asking Stack to hear motions.

Stack continued the July hearing due to the volume of asbestos work.

Schmieder represents the plaintiffs and class. Brandfonbrener represents First Health.

The Madison case is case number 04-L-1055.

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