Our law-firm is currently involved in a most important case in an Alabama federal court. The anti-trust lawsuit filed against Blue Cross companies for conspiring in Alabama and across the country to illegally stifle competition will be allowed to proceed to U.S. District Judge David Proctor, on June 18, denied motions filed by Blue Cross/Blue Shield Plans, which are independent companies across the United States, to have the anti-trust case dismissed.
The lawsuit is a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) case that was sent to Birmingham by the MDL panel of seven Judges (of which now Judge Proctor is a member, but was not at the time of the transfer to his Court) and assigned to Judge Proctor. Our law firm is one of the firms handling the case in the MDL. Judge Proctor appointed Dee Miles, who is the Section Head for the Consumer Fraud/Commercial Litigation section of our firm, to help prosecute those claims.
The case was originally filed in 2012 by an Alabama Chiropractor and consolidated with similar suits is being brought by Blue Cross subscribers and health care providers against about three dozen of the Blue’s companies, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, which has the largest market share in a single State of any insurer in the country. The lawsuit alleges a violation of the federal anti-trust laws through a “complete lack of meaningful competition” within the markets across the United States where Blue Cross businesses sell insurance. These Blue Cross businesses, although independently run, are linked by an association with a Board of Directors that sets up the anti-competitive agreements, according to the allegation of the lawsuit.
Blue Cross filed the Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit in October claiming that the Plaintiffs’ failed to make a viable claim on a number of allegations. However, Judge David Proctor stated the following in his Order:
The Court has not attempted to reference (much less address) all of the details regarding plaintiffs’ allegations about the alleged scheme…But the contentions…make clear that plaintiffs’ have alleged a viable market allocation scheme. If that scheme is proven, it may subject defendants to anti-trust liability.
In addition, this past January, 14 law professors from around the country filed a “friend of the Court” brief in opposition to the Blue Cross Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit. Despite the Judge’s June 18 ruling denying Blue Cross’ Motion to Dismiss and the helping support of the academic world for the lawsuit, Blue Cross Blue Shield maintains that the anti-trust lawsuit is without merit.
This lawsuit is a very important step toward improving competition in our health care industry in this country. Judge Proctor’s Order is the first step toward improving our health care system, which will benefit health care providers, as well as consumers. We are honored to be a part of this lawsuit and to be prosecuting the claims on behalf of consumers and health care providers against Blue Cross Blue Shield in hopes that it will provide a fair and honest marketplace for everyone associated with health care. If you need additional information on this litigation, contact Dee Miles, the lawyer who heads up our Consumer Fraud Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Dee.Miles@beasleyallen.com. We will continue to report the progress of this case as it occurs.
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