Thursday, December 22, 2011
Walmart and Concentra to Pay $8,000,000 Settlement
In the Gianzero federal case Wal-Mart and Concentra were sued in a class action lawsuit alleging various violations including of the Colorado Workers Compensation Act, bad faith, RICO, and much more. The basics of the case was the assertion that Wal-Mart and its insurer conspired to dictate, withhold, delay, deny or interfere with the medical care of injured workers. The case made a big impression and received commentary elsewhere. The allegations involved setting forth protocols for treatment and referrals which violated the Workers Comp Act and which restricted or denied or dictated care. As alleged, Concentra then implemented "flowsheets" which were then imposed on its doctors which preempted the exercise of independent medical judgment. In my view the adjuster could control treatment which I see as the inherent conflict in most health insurance situations. He who has the money can be expected to try to set the rules! Naturally all of this was hotly contested but in the proposed settlement Wal-Mart, Concentra and their insurers have recently agreed to pay $8,000,000 to settle the case without formally admitting they were out of line. Class members would receive up to $520 each if they were treated at a Concentra facility between 2001 and November 1, 2011. The detailed proposal sets forth the proposed settlement and more is available at this website including the original complaint and the notice of the proposed settlement to potential class members. If you were injured working at Wal-Mart you may be eligible for a check should it all be approved. Added expenses are also sought by the attorneys for fees and costs. Moreover as part of the settlement they are to cease the disputed activity for 4 years and have educational training for adjusters and certain staff of Concentra regarding the prohibition on dictation of care provisions of the Workers Compensation Act. In my view this is a significant victory for doctors and claimants who deserve to have medical treatment handled as a medical matter and not unduly influenced by non-medical personnel who work for the employer or its insurer.