Appeal and cross appeal filed in First Health class action

Amelia Flood Feb. 16, 2010, 6:46am



Even though a Madison County judge approved a class action settlement worth $1.25 million, legal maneuvers continue in a case filed over improper Preferred Provider Organization discounts (PPO).

Objector Kathleen Roche, a Swansea chiropractor who opposed the settlement, filed notice of an appeal, asking the appellate court to throw it out Feb. 2.

Lead plaintiffs Lawrence Shipley and Richard Coy filed their cross appeal notice six days later, asking the court disqualify Roche's attorney, Richard Burke.

Burke had formerly worked for the same law firm as the class counsel -- Robert Schmieder II -- before leaving it in 2007.
Burke has sparred several times since with his former firm, now called LakinChapman LLC.

Roche had tried, unsuccessfully, to block the settlement between the class and First Health, alleging that it did not financially compensate class members. She also argued that it would scuttle a nearly a identical suit she has pending in St. Clair County.

She filed her objection in April 2009.

The Madison County class acction, led by Shipley and Coy, alleged that the insurance company took PPO discounts it was not entitled to.

The suit's settlement calls for First Health to hand over $1 million to non-profits in Illinois in order to further medical education. Each lead plaintiff is set to receive $10,000. LakinChapman will be paid $650,000 in legal fees.

Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack held several fairness hearings in the case.

He entered a judgment last month approving the settlement.
Stack had previously allowed Burke to continue representing Roche in a May 2009 order.

The cross appeal asks the appellate court to end Burke's involvement in the case.

The class action is one several filed against insurance companies over PPO discounts.

Shipley and Coy have each helmed several.

Eric Brandfonbrener represents First Health.

Roche's appeal was due in Mount Vernon Feb. 16.

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

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