Mudge asks for additional documents as he considers class action objection

Amelia Flood Feb. 23, 2011, 8:47am


Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge is asking for more documents from parties battling over a disputed settlement claim worth more than $500,000 in a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) class action.

Mudge signed his order seeking documents related to that claim Feb. 18.

The Illinois Bone and Joint Institute (IBJI) claims that defendants Cincinnati Insurance Company and Cincinnati Casualty Company wrongly denied its settlement claim to the tune of what is now more than $500,000.

IBJI was part of a 32,000 member class that sued the insurance companies for allegedly taking improper PPO discounts.

The class was led by chiropractor Frank Bemis and his practice.

Mudge heard arguments on the matter in January.

The suit is one of a series of class actions filed in the early part of the last decade on claims that insurance companies took improper discounts from workers' compensation injury and other claims.

The suits were filed by the firms of Freed & Weiss in Chicago and the then-Lakin Law Firm of Wood River.

That partnership dissolved in 2007. The Lakin firm became LakinChapman LLC.

The Cincinnati settlement totaled about $3.5 million.

Bemis got $5,000 as lead plaintiff.

Class counsels Bradley Lakin and Robert Schmieder II took home more than $700,000 in fees.

The Cincinnati defendants allege that IBJI did not comply with the claims procedure and missed deadlines in filing documentation.

The insurance companies say they denied the settlement claims for that reason.

The defense also cites the $57,000 it paid out of the $458,000 claim.'

IBJI now says it has found more discounted claims bringing the total it seeks to over $500,000.

The insurers contend they denied the rest due to the improper documentation sent by IBJI.

Mudge took the issue under advisement and asked parties to submit the disputed documents for review.

In the Feb. 14 order, Mudge explains he has not had enough time to review the supporting documents for the claims and he wants to review more documents within 21 days.

Mudge took over the case from Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder after she became the county's asbestos judge last year.

Omar Odland represents Cincinnati.

Schmieder II appeared for the class and IBJI at the Jan. 19 hearing on the claim.

The case is Madison case number 05-L-178.

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