Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in ERISA
In Re: Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation
Subscribers who bought health insurance filed a class action against Blue Cross, alleging that it violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by restricting the member plans’ ability to compete. At issue is whether the district court abused its discretion in approving a settlement agreement for a multi-district antitrust class action against the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and its member plans. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the self-funded claimants were represented by their own counsel and class representatives in the settlement negotiations and received some compensation from the settlement. Although the settlement agreement’s allocation is facially unequal, it is not facially unfair. Further, the court held that the record supports the conclusion that the self-funded claimants and the fully insured claimants had at least potentially adverse interests. The district court did not abuse its discretion in dividing them into subclasses. Moreover, the court found that the district court also correctly applied the percentage-ofthe-fund doctrine. View "In Re: Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law
In re: Allergan ERISA Litigation
The plaintiffs are participants in the Allergan Savings and Investment Plan, which provides various investment options, including an employee stock ownership feature for buying Allergan stock. According to the plaintiffs, the defendants were Plan fiduciaries and owed them commensurate duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). They claim that, although the public was unaware, the defendants knew or should have known that, before the divestiture of its generic-drug business, Allergan had conspired with other generic-drug manufacturers to fix prices, thereby artificially boosting its financial performance and its stock price. The plaintiffs cited inquiries from members of Congress and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, seeking information about large price increases in certain generic drugs. The plaintiffs do not allege that Allergan was ever charged in connection with the investigation but claim that the defendants’ failure to remove Allergan stock as a Plan investment option or otherwise take action to protect Plan participants, violated ERISA.The Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. Even viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, the well-pled factual allegations fail to support a plausible inference that Allergan conspired with competitors to fix prices. Because all of the plaintiffs’ causes of action ultimately rest on the premise that the defendants knew or should have known about that supposed illegal conduct, the absence of allegations sufficient to support the existence of it is fatal to each of their claims. View "In re: Allergan ERISA Litigation" on Justia Law
Medical Assoc. of GA, et al. v. Wellpoint, Inc.
In 2000, physicians and physician associations imitated a group of class actions against various providers of health plans, which were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation. This appeal involves this complex, twelve-year-old multidistrict litigation, a related multidistrict litigation pending in another federal district, and whether the district court reasonably interpreted the Settlement Agreement in the first action. The court affirmed the Injunction as to plaintiffs' Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961, and antitrust claims and as to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., claims based on the denial or underpayment of benefits following the Settlement Agreement's Effective Date. On remand, the district court will need to determine which of plaintiffs' ERISA claims fall on the permissible side of the line, and reconsider the assessment of sanctions. View "Medical Assoc. of GA, et al. v. Wellpoint, Inc." on Justia Law