A major class-action suit against 6 large managed care companies has moved a step closer to trial.[@@]
The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to review a dispute about whether the plaintiffs in the case, Leonard J. Klay, et al. v. UnitedHealth Group Inc., et al., really form a class that should have the ability to bring a class-action suit.
Lawyers for the doctors say Klay is the lead plaintiff in a class that consists of about 600,000 doctors who have done business with the managed care units of Health Net Inc., Los Angeles; Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky.; PacifiCare Health Systems Inc., Cypress, Calif.; Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J.; UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn.; and WellPoint Inc., Indianapolis.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say the managed care companies named as defendants have violated federal racketeering laws by conspiring to hold down doctors’ compensation and interpret provider contracts in unfair ways.
But the defendants and outside business groups question whether lawyers for Klay should have the right to represent a class consisting of hundreds of thousands of doctors.
Klay v. UnitedHealth is one of many managed care cases that have been consolidated in the U.S. District Court in Miami under the style In Re Managed Care Litigation.
U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno has certified a class of 600,000 doctors for the lawyers representing Klay, and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld certification of the class in September 2004.
Lawyers representing UnitedHealth and the other managed care companies turned to the Supreme Court for help in October 2004.