A St. Clair County class action suit filed against First Health Insurance Company by Swansea chiropractor Kathleen Roche, the objector to a competing case in Madison County, is set for a status conference on Feb. 7.

The 2007 case, nearly identical to a class action that settled in Madison County last year, alleges First Health took wrongful Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) discounts from the bills of medical providers who treated workers' compensation cases.

Roche's St. Clair County case may be dead depending on a ruling the Fifth District Appellate Court may make regarding the settlement of the older Madison County suit led by lead plaintiffs Richard Coy and Lawrence Shipley.

Roche is a member of the Madison County suit's class.

Roche's attorney, Richard Burke, fought his old firm mate, Robert Schmieder III and First Health counsel Eric Brandfonbrener, throughout 2009 alleging that the $1.25 million Madison County settlement did not fairly compensate class members.

The bulk of the settlement is set to go to non-profits for continuing medical education.

Schmieder III and his team walked away with about $650,000 in fees.

Former Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack approved the settlement over Roche's objections last year.

Roche then appealed the settlement.

Should the appellate court uphold the settlement, Roche's St. Clair County suit may be over.

First Health has tried unsuccessfully to have the St. Clair County suit dismissed or stayed pending the resolution of the Madison County suit.

The original Madison County suit now before the appellate court is Madison case number 04-L-1055.

The competing Roche St. Clair County class action against First Health is case number 07-L-224.

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