Of the half a dozen major managed care companies sued by doctors in a variety of nationwide class action lawsuits, Cigna HealthCare is the first to break ranks and attempt to hammer out a draft settlement agreement. But the breakthrough is splitting the plaintiffs apart, dividing attorneys for dozens of lawsuits consolidated in U.S. District Court in Miami and attorneys for a single class action filed in Madison County, Ill.
The Illinois case, with named plaintiff Timothy Kaiser, M.D., an Alton, Ill., otolaryngologist, has been setting the pace for all the health plan lawsuits because it was the first to be granted nationwide class action status last year.
With the case due to go to trial in June, Cigna began negotiating a settlement in the spring. Those talks led to an 89-page proposed agreement that attorneys began circulating this fall, but it's no done deal.
Plaintiffs' attorneys in the Florida and Illinois cases say they stopped talking to each other several months ago, even as each side continued talks with Cigna. In fact, on Dec. 3, the Miami Court will hear a petition from attorneys there to enjoin Cigna from settling with the Illinois class.
Both plaintiffs groups agree a settlement with Cigna would...