Class-action Trial Delayed

Physician's Money Digest, March15 2004, Volume 11, Issue 5

A federal court judge has postponed the trial datefor a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of300,000 physicians nationwide. The lawsuits claimthat several insurance companies violated their contractswith doctors and unlawfully profited at thedoctors' expense by systematically delaying or denyingpayments. Named as defendants in the suit areAnthem, Coventry Health Care, UnitedHealth Group,Humana, PacifiCare Health Systems, and WellPointHealth Networks.

Aetna has already settled with the doctors for$570 million, while its Prudential division, Cigna, haspaid out $540 million. According to a ruling by JudgeFederico Moreno, the trial, which had been set tostart in June, will now begin in September. The HMOsclaim that sticking with the June trial date would putpressure on them to settle. Before the trial starts,both sides expect to receive decisions on whether theclass-action suit should be broken up and whetherthe trial location should be changed. Moreno, who isa US district court judge in Miami, Fla, has presidedover the case for the past 3 years.