PPO plaintiffs again ask judge to approve First Health settlement

Amelia Flood Oct. 8, 2009, 6:00am




Lead plaintiffs in a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) class action have again asked Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack to approve their proposed settlement.

Drs. Lawrence Shipley and Richard Coy claim that a new lawsuit filed by Dr. Kathleen Roche against Zenith Insurance Company demonstrates that her attorney doesn't believe in her arguments against their settlement.

Stack has yet to enter an order about the proposed settlement's fairness, although he last heard arguments on the matter in late August.

Roche, a class member with a nearly identical suit against First Health Insurance Company pending in St. Clair County, contends that the Shipley-Coy settlement does not compensate class members and that it would cut the legs out from her St. Clair suit.

Roche's attorney, Richard Burke of St. Louis, had argued during multiple fairness hearings on the settlement, that the St. Clair suit has a stronger theory and that lawsuits against a payor, like in the Madison case, are not the best way to compensate the class.

Shipley and Coy, both chiropractors, sued First Health over what they alleged were improper PPO discounts that deprived them and other health care providers of fees they were owed.

Their proposed settlement includes a $1.25 million payout by First Health to non-profits aimed at furthering medical education, about $600,000 in legal fees for LakinChapman LLC., class attorneys, and $10,000 for each of the lead plaintiffs in the case.

In their Oct. 2 motion, Shipley and Coy allege that Roche filed suit against Zenith in St. Clair County on Aug. 27, two days after the final fairness hearing before Stack.

"Clearly, Roche counsel do not believe their own statements argued to this Court," the motion filed by Andrew Kuhlmann reads.

The plaintiffs then ask Stack to approve their settlement.

The St. Clair County suit contends the same improper PPO reductions were taken from the bills of healthcare providers who treated patients who held Zenith policies.

The First Health settlement has become a hot potato in a dispute between Burke and his former firm. The two have sparred several times over cases that Burke had worked on while part of the Lakin firm. He left the firm in 2007.

The Shipley-Coy class are represented by Bradley Schmeider III and others of the Lakin firm.

First Health is represented by Eric Brandfonbrener and Thomas Hennessy III.

Roche is represented by Burke and others.

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

Roche's competing St. Clair County case number is 07-L-224.

The new filing referenced in the Oct. 2 motion is 09-L-452.

More News