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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Health Insurers Seek $19+ Million of Cancer Care Costs from Some Members of the Asbestos Litigation

Mealey’s recently highlighted the latest example of financiers and entrepreneurial claiming creating change in the asbestos litigation industry.  Specifically, Humana Inc., United Healthcare Services Inc. and Aetna Inc. recently took another step in recovering costs of cancer care from at least some members of the asbestos litigation industry; the step involves a recent “subrogation” lawsuit in federal court in Texas. This “subrogation” lawsuit is notable for multiple reasons. At the human level, the lawsuit  is notable because it highlights some of the many the conflicting forces at work in the already difficult lives of persons with cancers that arise out of workplace exposure to “toxins” (or alleged toxins).   At the finance level, the lawsuit further alters the already complicated calculus involved in trying to accurately calculate the real direct and indirect real costs of health care and mass tort litigation. At the entrepreneurial level, it highlights the reality that multiple different interest groups seek to profit from cancers said to arise from “mass tort” claims, such as cancers that actually or allegedly arise out of intake of asbestos fibers.

The $19.5 million suit was filed by Humana Inc., United Healthcare Services Inc. and Aetna Inc, and is pending in Houston, Texas in federal court (the Southern District of Texas).  “The suit names Brent W. Coon P.C., a/k/a Brent Coon & Associates; Reaud, Morgan & Quinn; The Bogdan Law Firm; Foster & Sear; Hissey Kientz; and Shrader & Associates,” as is described in a November 23, 2016 article, Insurers Claim Asbestos Lawyers Facilitate Double Dipping, Seek Injunction, 20 Mealey’s Litig. Rep. Asb. 19 (2016), at 31. (free access available upon signing up for a trial subscription).

The suit has a core fact pattern involving health care services provided to 297 persons who asserted asbestos litigation claims. As explained by Mealeys, “the insurers claim they matched 297 insureds (matched insureds) for whom they provided asbestos-related medical care coverage to individuals represented by the named law firms. The insurers claim that they have paid $19.5 million on the matched insureds’ claims.” The suit, however, seeks broader declaratory and injunctive relief.

There are many financial and human factors at work in asbestos litigation, but many people are not aware of the myriad factors at work.  Kudos to Bryan Redding and Mealey’s for highlighting this aspect of the complexity of asbestos litigation. The US Chamber of Commerce frequently complains about plaintiff lawyers in asbestos litigation – e.g here. However, one suspects the Chamber will not be bashing this set of contingent fee plaintiff lawyers involved in the endless search for a deep pocket that may yield  profits from the misery of persons suffering from cancers actually or allegedly related to intake of asbestos fibers.

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