UnitedHealth subsidiary owes millions in costs in hedge lawsuit

Peter Hayes

Lawyers who fought United Behavioral Health for six years on behalf of group members who falsely denied claims for mental health coverage have received more than $ 20 million in fees and costs from the Northern District of California.

The court rejected UBH’s argument that the plaintiffs had obtained only a procedural victory, which does not justify an award of fees and costs, as the court referred for restatement instead of grant benefits to group members.

“None of the cases cited by UBH establish a clear rule that a claimant who obtains a remand order in an ERISA case rather than an award of benefits cannot claim an award of fees and costs”, the United States District Court said. the Northern District of California said Wednesday.

“The court has no difficulty in concluding that the plaintiffs have had” some success on the merits, “said Judge Joseph C. Spero. The award includes $ 19.6 million in fees and $ 1.2 million in costs.

The decision comes more than a year after the court ordered UBH to reprocess thousands of wrongly denied claims for mental health coverage.

In March 2019, the court found that UBH had used internal guidelines inconsistent with the terms of group members’ health insurance plans, in violation of the Employees Retirement Income Security Act 1974.

In an appeal order dated November 3, 2020, the court declared that UBH “has deliberately embarked on this course of action, to protect its results.”

“To cover up its misconduct, the UBH lied to state regulators and UBH leaders responsible for drafting and implementing the guidelines which deliberately attempted to mislead the court during the trial in this regard. case, ”the court said.

Psych-Appeal Inc., Zuckerman Spaeder LLP and Maul Firm PC represent the class. Crowell & Moring LLP represents UBH.

The case is Wit v. United Behavioral Health, 2022 BL 2973, ND Cal., No.14-cv-02346, 1/5/22.

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